Koula: Life without parole for both murders - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Koula Sentenced to Life in Prison

Posted: Updated: Aug 15, 2012 4:00 PM
Eric Koula maintaining his innocence to Judge Scott Horne during his sentencing. Eric Koula maintaining his innocence to Judge Scott Horne during his sentencing.
  • More InformationMore>>

  • Koula attorneys speak out on case

    Koula attorneys speak out on case

    LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) - The attorneys who represented Eric Koula during his trial for killing his parents plan to speak out today. James Koby, Keith Belzer, and Christopher Dyer represented Koula.More >>
    LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) - The attorneys who represented Eric Koula during his trial for killing his parents plan to speak out today.More >>
  • Koula found guilty of murdering his parents

    Koula found guilty of murdering his parents

    June 27, 2012 09:39 PM CDT2013-01-17 00:11:30 GMT
    LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) - Eric Koula found guilty in the shooting deaths of his parents in their Barre Mills home in May, 2010. Jury returned verdict around 330pm. We'll have more on wxow.com andMore >>
    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 in the case returned the verdict in the three charges against Koula around 330pm Wednesday afternoon.  He was found guilty of killing his parents and one count of forgery.

    More >>
  • State's Witness Shoots Down Koula Defense's Hitman Theory

    Testimony in Koula trial winding down

    June 21, 2012 07:19 PM CDT2013-01-17 00:01:41 GMT
    LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) - Testimony is expected to conclude Friday in the Eric Koula trial. Koula is accused of killing his parents Dennis and Merna Koula in their Barre Mills home in May, 2010.More >>
    LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) – Eric Koula's defense team continued Thursday to push the theory that his parents, Dennis and Merna, were killed by the gun of a professional hitman.

    More >>
  • Defense Witness Calls Koula Killings Work of Professional

    Koula continues his testimony

    June 19, 2012 03:37 PM CDT2013-01-16 23:52:24 GMT
    LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) - Eric Koula spend another day on the stand in his double homicide trial. Among the prosecution's biggest pieces of evidence against Koula is a threatening note which KoulaMore >>
    LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) – Eric Koula took the stand for the second day in a row in his double homicide trial Tuesday, with prosecutors again attempting to poke holes in his alibi for May 21, 2010 – the night his parents were shot.

    Prosecutor Gary Freyberg, of Wisconsin's Department of Justice, also repeatedly accused Koula of killing his parents, Dennis and Merna, in their Barre Mills home.
    More >>

LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) -- Even with the pronouncement of an all but guaranteed life sentence in prison minutes away, Eric Koula and his defense attorneys maintained his innocence in a La Crosse County courtroom Wednesday.

"I'm going to fight and fight and bring this person -- or people -- forward that did this," Koula told Judge Scott Horne. "Because I did not."

"Two years have been devoted to this case. Thousands of man hours have been devoted to this case, and it's all been in the interest of protecting the rights of an innocent man," said Koula's attorney James Koby.

But those words resonated little with Horne – who sentenced Koula to life in prison without the possibility of extended supervision for each of the two homicides he was convicted of committing.
Those sentences will run consecutively.

"Frankly, I think the jury got it right," Horne said.

"If the jury was going to convict you, they would have to believe you were capable of killing your parents and then pretending to your family and friends as if nothing had happened," he said.

Horne added the echoes of the two fatal gunshots fired at Dennis and Merna Koula will now sound in the Koula family for generations.

 "Your parents were good, decent people," Horne told Koula. "Your father was a person you should have become -- someone who earned what he had through skill and hard work."

"They should be enjoying retirement and a quiet life with family and friends, but you took that from them," Horne said.

"Your sister has been deprived of the loss of her parents and you're responsible for that.

Their grandchildren will grow up without Grandma and Grandpa," he said.

"For an unearned, $50-thousand you destroyed those lives and those relationships," Horne added, referencing the $50-thousand check drawn against Dennis Koula's account that Eric Koula deposited the day after the murders.

Koula testified during his month-long trial that he signed his father's name, although he maintains he did so with permission.  

"The defendant has shown no remorse, in fact he still maintains his innocence," said District Attorney Tim Gruenke.

"The court saw throughout the trial how ludicrous and ridiculous some of his lies became," the District Attorney added, referencing the check as well as a forged, threatening letter which Koula told police he discovered in his mailbox one week after the homicides.

Koula is seen on police surveillance video that day as hysterical, and unable to stand. But he admitted during trial that he planted the threatening letter himself – saying he wanted officers to stop investigating his family and instead focus on finding the real criminals.  

"You took the life of the two people who gave you life, and you'll now spend the rest of your life incarcerated," Horne told Koula.

Koula hugged his wife and son before leaving the courtroom.

His attorneys say they will now proceed with their appeal of the conviction.

"We had the sentencing hearing, took care of that, and now we intend to move forward with taking care of business," said defense attorney Jim Koby. "That means getting this man acquitted and getting him home to his family."  

 

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LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) - Eric Koula will spend the rest of his life behind bars. Judge Scott Horne sentenced Koula Wednesday morning to life in prison without the possibility of extended supervision for the 2010 murders of his parents.

Koula was convicted of killing his parents, Dennis and Merna Koula, in their Barre Mills home in May, 2010.

Judge Horne rejected many of the arguments that Koula's defense attorneys made during the nearly month-long trial.  He was also critical of the lies Koula admitted to during the trial.

"You've shown no sign of remorse," stated Judge Horne.

Horne also sentenced Koula to a six year prison term for forging a check he said was given to him by his father before the murder.

Following sentencing, Koula, wearing a blue jail jumpsuit, hugged his wife, briefly talked to his son, and then left the courtroom.  He was red-eyed, but did not cry during the exchange.

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LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) - "Frankly, I think the jury got it right."

Judge Scott Horne makes the comment during his sentencing of Eric Koula Wednesday morning in La Crosse.

Other comments from Horne:

"Your children will grow up without their grandma and grandpa.  You're responsible for that."

"Your children will grow up without their father who will be incarcerated."

"For $150,000 you destroyed those lives and relationships."

 

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LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) - Eric Koula has spoken in his own defense during his sentencing in La Crosse today.

Speaking to Judge Scott Horne, Koula said, "I've been convicted of this crime that I didn't do.  I did not kill my mom and dad."

He also said not a day goes by when he doesn't think of them and wishes he could talk to them.

Koula said he'd continue to fight for his release.  "I will not quit.  The person who did this is still out there."

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LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) - District Attorney Tim Gruenke recommends sending Eric Koula to prison for the rest of his life without the possibility of release for murdering his parents.

Gruenke made his comment during the sentencing of Eric Koula in a La Crosse County courtroom this morning.

Gruenke told Judge Scott Horne that Koula has shown no remorse for the murders of Dennis and Merna Koula in May 2010.

"It was cold blooded, it was done for greed," stated Gruenke.  "The crime itself was selfish.  He only cared about what he wanted.  He wanted money."

Defense attorney Jim Koby is now arguing for his client.  He is telling the court that Eric has maintained his innocence all along.  "Every lawyer at this table believes Eric is innocent."

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LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) - The West Salem man convicted of killing his parents for their inheritance is set for sentencing today.

During the trial for Eric Koula, prosecutors argued that he shot his parents at their Barre Mills home in May 2010 after cutting him off financially.

Koula's attorneys countered the circumstantial case was based on a faulty timeline of events that occurred during the time of the shooting.   

Following two and a half days of deliberation, a La Crosse County jury found Koula guilty of the deaths.

Koula faces life in prison when he's sentenced by Judge Scott Horne.

Koula's defense team has previously announced they are planning to appeal the verdict.

WXOW.com will carry the sentencing live on our web site.  Click here to watch.

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