LA CROSSE,Wisconsin (WXOW) - Jurors are chosen in the double homicide trial of a Minnesota man accused of killing a downtown La Crosse businessman and his son last year.
Jury selection happened Tuesday in the trial of Jeffrey Lepsch, the Dakota man charged with the robbing and fatally shooting Paul and AJ Petras inside May's Photo in September, 2012.
Seven women and eight men were selected during a six and a half hour proceeding in Judge Ramona Gonzalez's courtroom. Three of the 15 jurors are alternates which means they'd replace any juror who would not be able to continue on the panel. They will hear the testimony, but dismissed prior to deliberations.
District Attorney Tim Gruenke spent the first part of the afternoon questioning jurors on violence and motive. He asked the panel if they thought motive was important to know, despite the state not having to prove in order to convict Lepsch. One replied that knowing a motive was important.
Another juror replied when the group was asked about the strength of circumstantial evidence that he believed it was 'weaker' evidence. Gruenke countered that unless there's an eyewitness, a homicide trial is based on circumstantial evidence.
Among the questions asked by Lepsch's attorney, Vincent Rust, was about forensic evidence. He also queried the panel whether they would have a problem with finding Lepsch guilty of robbery and acquitting him of the homicides if the evidence shows that. The jurors were mostly quiet in response. Besides the two homicide charges, there is an armed robbery charge brought against Lepsch.
Following the questioning, prosecutors and the defense narrowed the panel down to the 15 jurors. They won't be sequestered for the trial.
Once jury selection was finished, Judge Ramona Gonzalez adjourned the proceedings until 8:30 a.m. Wednesday morning. That's when both sides will start with their opening arguments in the case.
WXOW.com will be live streaming the trial starting with the opening arguments. You can watch our coverage and look at past stories on the case by clicking here.
LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) - The selection of jurors in the trial of a Minnesota man accused of double homicide in the shooting deaths of a downtown businessman and his son began Tuesday morning in La Crosse.
Both the prosecution and defense questions potential jurors one at a time in Judge Ramona Gonzalez's courtroom in the trial of Jeffrey Lepsch.
He's on trial for fatally shooting Paul and AJ Petras in Paul's business, May's Photo, in September 2012.
Prosecutors intend to argue in the trial that robbery was the motive.
Tuesday morning, 39 jurors were questioned about whether they knew anyone connected to the case, seen media coverage of the crime, or had already made up their minds about Lepsch's guilt or innocence. Several had known either Paul or AJ Petras or had been to the business.
Before jury selection broke for lunch, six potential jurors were excused from service. One potential juror didn't show up.
Jury selection continues throughout Tuesday afternoon. Opening arguments are scheduled to start Wednesday morning.
WXOW.com will be live streaming the trial. You can watch our coverage and look at past stories on the case by clicking here.
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