LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) – Joe Breier met Eric Koula in 1993.
He testified Tuesday that the pair worked together under Koula's father, Dennis, at his car dealership for roughly one year.
Eric later moved in down the block from Breier in West Salem, their wives began to hit it off, and a friendship between the two couples was formed.
"Our friendship still continues today," Breier said.
"We became closer and closer friends, to the point where we usually spent one to two days a week together," said his wife Connie.
She added the two couples often went out to dinner and hung out at each others' houses.
So the Breiers testified Wednesday about the difficulty of talking with Eric after he discovered his parents, Dennis and Merna, dead in their home on May 24, 2010.
"His voice was shaky," said Joe, who spoke to Koula on the phone that afternoon. "He was crying, I was crying. It wasn't a very good day."
"He was in shock," Connie said. "It was totally different behavior than I ever see from him, but he was grieving. Who could be normal on a night like that?"
The Breiers also testified they saw Koula and his wife the weekend before his parents were found deceased.
The couples had drinks on Friday – the night the state alleges the homicides occurred.
They also gathered for a barbeque on Saturday, May 22, and Joe and Eric participated in their usual golf game on Sunday.
Joe testified that Eric seemed his normal self the weekend, not appearing stressed or nervous, making it clear he doesn't think his friend is capable of the for which he stands accused.
"Dennis was his best friend," Joe said. "He had a lot of respect for him and they did a lot of stuff together."
"Same with Merna," he added. "I think Eric learned a great deal from his parents. He had the utmost amount of respect for them."
The defense could conclude calling witnesses as early as Wednesday.
LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) - Eric Koula's attorneys continue to push an alternative theory that a professional hitman killed Eric's parents in their Barre Mills home more than two years ago.
The defense presented an additional witness on Wednesday to bolster that theory. Max Scott, who describes himself as a "Forensic Event Reconstructionist", described how he sees the scene.
He told the jury that he looks at the "Forensic Trio" which is made up of the witness or witnesses, the scene, and the evidence found at the scene.
Scott stated he can typically reconstruct what happened based on the idea that those three elements each give and take something from one another.
For example, a witness may take something away from a crime scene such as tracking dirt on his or her shoe. Conversely, the same person may leave something behind like a fingerprint.
In the Koula case, Scott testified that there was a lack of give and take which makes him think it was not the work of a first-time killer. He added later that he believes a silencer could have used in the shooting. He based that on the lack of any gun shot residue on either body. He did admit the lack of residue may be because the shooter was close to either victim.
Scott was paid by the defense, something the prosecution pointed out during cross examination.
Testimony concluded shortly after 2pm Wednesday. It will continue on Thursday and is expected to wrap up by the end of the week. Closing arguments are set for either Monday or Tuesday depending on how long testimony takes. Once the jury instructions are given, the 12 jurors will be sequestered, or barred from any outside contact, until they've finished with their deliberations.
Koula faces life in prison if convicted.