Koula Defense: We Will Appeal - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Koula Defense: We Will Appeal

Eric Koula on Wednesday, moments after he heard the guilty verdict. Eric Koula on Wednesday, moments after he heard the guilty verdict.
Dennis and Merna Koula Dennis and Merna Koula
LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) – Eric Koula's defense attorneys spoke publicly Friday for the first time since their client was found guilty of killing his parents.
The 42-year old Koula was found guilty Wednesday on two counts of first degree intentional homicide for the murders of Dennis and Merna Koula at the couple's home in Barre Mills the evening of May 21, 2010.
But his lawyers said they still believe in his innocence.
"We will appeal the case, there's no question about that," said defense attorney Keith Belzer. "We're not at a point yet where we can talk about particular issues for appeal. That'll happen later. But while we respect the verdict the jury came to, we don't agree with it."
Belzer also reflected on Wednesday's reading of the verdict, which came after almost 20 hours of jury deliberation.
"The moments tick by like hours," he said. "You're obsessing about the case, what went on in the case, and you're worried about someone you care deeply about – Eric."
"Everything is in slow motion and in that moment, the fact that a man's life is on the line is so present in your thoughts," Belzer said.
During a trial that lasted almost one month from jury selection to verdict day, the prosecution painted Koula as a man in dire financial straits – showing he owed $50-thousand dollars in credit card debts at the time of the murders.
The state argued that Koula's parents, whose gifts provided Koula's only stable source of income aside from day trading on his computer, had threatened to cut him off, and that provided his motive to commit the crimes.
Koula was also found guilty of uttering a forgery, after he admitted on the stand that he had signed his father Dennis's name on a $50-thousand dollar check he deposited into his own bank account the morning following the murders.  
The defense still calls the state's case circumstantial.
"Eric's innocent," said defense attorney Jim Koby. "Eric is guilty of being scared. Eric's guilty, in my opinion, of being stupid. But lying doesn't make you a murderer."
"You don't have to prove motive to prove a homicide, " Belzer said, "but this is the first homicide case I'm aware of where the only proof was motive."
Koula's lawyers also said they were pleased with his two days of testimony.
"I thought he was sincere, he was honest, he was believable," Belzer said. "His testimony was one of the most compelling things I've ever seen in my life."
"Eric didn't have to get on the witness stand," Koby said. "He got on the stand because he's an innocent man and he told the truth."
"He told all four of (his lawyers) the truth for the last two years and he continues to tell the truth," Koby added. "God willing, if we're able to prevail on appeal and get a new trial, we believe the truth will come out."
Koula is scheduled to be sentenced August 20. He faces a maximum of life in prison.
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