LA CROSSE, Wis. -- It was an emotional day in court as a West Salem man on trial for killing his parents took the stand.
Eric Koula is accused of killing his parents over money in May 2010 in their Barre Mills home.
He showed a wide range of emotions on the stand Monday, as the trial enters its third week. Toward the beginning of his testimony, he was smiling as he reminisced about the time he spent golfing with his father or having coffee with his mother.
But as he talked further about the days surrounding his parents' deaths, things took an emotional turn.
With a trembling voice, he explained why he never told investigators about the $50,000 check he'd signed in his father's name, dated the day of the murders and deposited the day after.
"The one person who could verify this is no longer with me and I just didn't think I could explain it at that time," he said.
But he's explaining it now. It was Thursday, May 21, 2010 -- the day before his parents were gunned down in their home. Eric Koula said his family needed to pay off some credit cards and he wasn't sure at the time how much money he would need, so his father, Dennis Koula, gave his son a blank, unsigned check.
"He tore a check out, and he handed me a check, and he said, 'Sign it after you fill it out and let me know,’" said Eric Koula.
He said that was the last time he saw his father before he was murdered.
"I said, 'I love you, Dad.' And he said, 'I love you,'" he said.
"Was that the last time you saw him alive?" asked defense attorney Keith Belzer.
"Yeah, it was," said Koula.
He then recounted his version of the days surrounding his parents’ deaths, including the day he said he found their bodies.
On Monday, May 25, 2010, he said he got a call from the school where his mother worked, saying she hadn't come in that day. He called both of his parents and neither of them picked up, so he drove to their house.
He choked up as he described the moment he said he found his parents' bodies.
"The whole thing just spins in your head. I've lived this over and over and over, for over two years. And it doesn't get better any time I think about it," said Koula.
With more than two years to think it over, his plea of innocence remains the same.
"Eric, did you kill your mom?" asked Belzer.
"No," said Koula.
"Kill your dad?" asked Belzer.
"No," said Koula.
Another issue that's come up repeatedly in this trial is the note saying "fixed u" Eric Koula admits to planting in his own mailbox. Koula said Monday he doesn't know why he did it and he's sorry he did.
The defense wrapped up their questioning late Monday afternoon and the prosecution began questioning Koula shortly afterward. They will continue their line of questions Tuesday morning.