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Koula asks for new homicide trial


LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) - We'll know later this summer if a new trial is coming for a West Salem man convicted of killing his parents.

Attorneys for Eric Koula argued Friday afternoon that ineffective counsel in the June, 2012 trial led to an unfair conviction and life prison sentence. With Koula sitting next to them in orange La Crosse County Jail clothing, they made their case in front of original trial Judge Scott Horne.

They called three of the original attorneys on Koula’s defense team, Keith koula, James Koby, and Nicholas Thompson.

Much of the testimony Friday surrounded the testimony of Leroy Koula which the original defense was unable to keep from jurors. Attorney Koby argued at length that the testimony was hearsay and prejudicial to the jury. Judge Horne overruled the objection and allowed the testimony. What Leroy Koula told jurors was about a conversation he’d had with Dennis Koula in which Dennis said he was going to cut off financial support to the ‘kids’. It wasn’t known whether that referred to Eric or his sister and her husband, or all three.

One of the original defense attorneys, Nicholas Thompson, said that the ruling allowing the testimony was “devastating” for the defense. In an attempt at what the attorneys referred to as ‘damage control’, they discussed a strategy that changed the wording of one of the jury instructions from the word “children” to “kids”. The thought at the time of the trial in June, 2012, was that the word children referred to biological and pointed more at Eric and his sister. By changing the word, the defense felt it helped include Eric’s sister and her husband as having reason to kill Dennis and Merna Koula.

The couple was found shot to death in their Barre Mills home in May, 2010.

Rather than take oral arguments, Judge Horne allowed both the defense and District Attorney Tim Gruenke to submit written arguments to the court.

Once Judge Horne reviews the transcripts of the testimony and the arguments, he told both sides he'll issue a ruling sometime by late July or early August.

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) - The West Salem man convicted in 2012 of killing his parents wants a new trial.

Attorneys for Eric Koula will make their arguments this afternoon in a La Crosse County courtroom in front of Judge Scott Horne, who presided over the original trial that took much of the month of June, 2012.

Prosecutors contended that Koula, a failed day-trader in stocks and nearly broke, killed his parents in their Barre Mills home in May, 2010 in order to collect an inheritance. A jury ultimately found Koula guilty of the crimes.  

In August, 2012, Judge Horne sentenced Koula to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the double homicide.
In his appeal, Koula's appeals attorney alleges that his original trial counsel was ineffective.

The hearing today will examine that issue.

According to online jail records, Koula was returned to La Crosse from prison in Waupun on Wednesday.

Click here to read in-depth coverage of the trial, conviction, and sentencing of Koula.

We will have more on this developing story here on WXOW.com and on our evening newscasts. 
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