Koula found guilty of murdering his parents - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Koula found guilty of murdering his parents

Posted: Updated: June 27, 2012 09:39 PM CDT
Defense attorney Keith Belzer, left, as family members leave the courthouse following the verdict Defense attorney Keith Belzer, left, as family members leave the courthouse following the verdict
Dennis and Merna Koula Dennis and Merna Koula
District Attorney Tim Gruenke speaking to the media about the trial. District Attorney Tim Gruenke speaking to the media about the trial.
The guilty verdict is read as Eric Koula listens. The guilty verdict is read as Eric Koula listens.
LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) – A La Crosse County jury found Eric Koula guilty of two counts of first degree intentional homicide Wednesday for the shooting deaths of his parents, Dennis and Merna.
Following three weeks of testimony and roughly 19 hours of deliberation, the jury ultimately decided beyond a reasonable doubt that the 42-year old Koula murdered his parents at their home in Barre Mills on the evening of May 21, 2010.
Koula was also found guilty of uttering a forgery – that charge stemming from a $50-thousand check made out to him from his father's account, which he deposited the day after Dennis and Merna were killed.
The prosecution painted Koula to the jury as a desperate man who's only career was day trading.
He was facing approximately $50-thousand dollars in credit card debts in May, 2010 and had not been employed since 2006.
The defense maintained that, despite his financial struggles, Koula's mortgage and credit card bills were all paid and current at that time.
Following Wednesday's verdict, Koula's family and attorneys immediately left the La Crosse County courthouse without commenting.
District Attorney Tim Gruenke then held a brief news conference in which he relayed a message from members of Dennis and Merna's family.
"I don't know that they're happy," Gruenke said. "Dennis and Merna still aren't here. But they expressed relief that there's some finality at this point."
"There are just a lot of family members that have been hurt -- Eric's been hurt -- his family's been hurt," he added.
"The investigation was incredible," Gruenke said, "incredibly thorough. Police tracked down many different leads, many different areas, they spent a lot of time on it."
"It was easier for us to present the case when the investigation was laid out and we just had to present it to the jury," Gruenke said. "We put in a lot of effort in the last two years. It's been a continuous process. The last month has pretty much been non-stop, the trial, and I feel we pretty much gave it everything we had."
"I don't know if I have anything left to give, physically, mentally, emotionally, I think we gave it everything we got, and thankfully the jury saw it the way we did," he said.
Koula will be sentenced on August 24.
Gruenke said he faces a maximum sentence of life in prison for each homicide conviction.

LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) - Eric Koula is found guilty in the shooting deaths of his parents in their Barre Mills home in May, 2010.

The jury returned verdict around 330pm. They had deliberated two days before reaching their decision.

Koula shook his head slightly from side to side as the verdicts were read by the court clerk.

Koula was charged with killing his parents, Dennis and Merna Koula, in order to collect an inheritance to help dig himself out of a financial situation.  Prosecutors argued that Koula was in serious financial trouble after failing as a day trader of stocks when he shot his parents. 

The defense countered that Koula had a loving relationship with his parents.  They also argued that Koula couldn't have shot them since he was helping a friend with a tiling project in La Crosse shortly before the shootings and that there was no way for him to get to their Barre Mills home by the time Merna Koula was shot at 541pm. 

Koula was also found guilty of forging a check for $50,000 that he said was given him by his father.

Judge Scott Horne, following the verdict, asked each juror for his or her decision on the charges.  All replied "guilty" to the three counts against Koula.

Sentencing is set for August 24th.  Koula faces life in prison when he's sentenced.

Pete Zervakis will have more, including reaction to the verdict on wxow.com and on Live At Five.

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