Lepsch headed to trial - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Lepsch headed to trial

May's Photo-September 16, 2012 May's Photo-September 16, 2012

LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) - The man accused of double homicide in downtown La Crosse is going to go to trial.

At a hearing in a La Crosse County courtroom Thursday morning, Jeffrey Lepsch and his attorney told Judge Ramona Gonzalez that Lepsch stood mute.  What that means is that Judge Gonzalez entered a not guilty plea on Lepsch's behalf to all charges.

Lepsch is charged with two counts of First Degree Intentional Homicide, Armed Robbery, and Felon in Possession of a Firearm related to the fatal shooting and robbery of Paul and AJ Petras and May's Photo on September 15th.

During the preliminary hearing, investigators with the La Crosse Police Department testified.

According to those investigators, surveillance video from Azara, a hookah shop on Main St., shows a dark blue van pulling up in front of May's Photo the day Paul and A.J. were killed. A man in a hooded sweatshirt gets out, and enters the camera store with a backpack, just before 1 PM.

Police say video then shows the man leaving the shop just before 2 PM with the backpack, and other bags full of unknown items. The van then turns and head north on to 4th St.

About a minute after the van leaves the Azara camera's view, police say the same van appears on surveillance footage from Festival Foods on Copeland Ave.

According to police, a van matching the description of the on in the video was found at Jeffrey Lepsch's home.

Sgt. Patrick Marco, who searched Lepsch's home, testified that more than a dozen items missing from May's Photo were found during that search. The items were identified by serial numbers. Police say about $16,000 worth of equipment was taken from the store.

It appears robbery was the motive.

"Were you able to determine if he's having any money troubles at the current time?" District Attorney Tim Gruenke asked.

"There are eight or nine accounts in Jeffrey's name or his wife's name, three of those accounts are all under the amount of $1," said Lt. Matt Malott. "There is an account to Jeff's Photography that is $118 in the negative. There is a $126 account and then there is an account, a $136 account which is in the negative. As well as a $61,000 mortgage."  

Police also said following Lepsch's arrest, a women came forward and said she purchased a camera from Jeffery Lepsch on October 9, the day before he was arrested.

The women heard about the arrest, contacted police and turned over the camera. Police matched a serial number on the camera lens to an item taken from May's Photo.

Police say they have video footage of Lepsch selling the camera to the woman at a Starbucks, located inside Target in Winona.

Investigators also testified about the condition of the crime scene. Paul Petras was found in the store's bathroom and the latch on the door was broken. The investigator said Paul was shot twice, once in the neck and once in the head. A.J. Petras was found in the store near an open safe. He was shot once in the head and also had signs of blunt force trauma to the head.

Lepsch remains in the La Crosse County Jail on a $2 million dollar cash bond.

A date for the trial was not set.  Another hearing was scheduled in 30 days.

Prosecutors said that evidence is still being analyzed at the State Crime Lab. 

In September, local and state investigators spent nearly an entire day at May's Photo collecting evidence. They also collected hundreds of pieces of evidence from Lepsch's home, including clothing that matches the description of items seen on the suspect in surveillance footage.

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