Lepsch bound over for trial

Published On: Oct 25 2012 12:46:49 PM CDT   Updated On: Oct 25 2012 11:22:39 PM CDT

The Minnesota man accused of killing a father and son in their downtown La Crosse photo shop has been bound over for trial.

Jeffrey Lepsch, 39, stood mute during his preliminary hearing in La Crosse County court Thursday, so Judge Gonzalez entered a not guilty plea on his behalf.

Lepsch has been charged with two counts of first degree homicide, armed robbery and possession of a firearm. He is accused of shooting and killing the owner of May’s Photo, Paul Petras, 56, and his 19-year-old son, A.J. on Saturday, September 15.

During Thursday’s hearing, five people from the La Crosse police department testified. They covered information from the crime scene to how they tracked down Lepsch.

Police say they were able to track down Lepsch and his family's vehicle using surveillance video.

An investigator also testified that he saw a person fitting Lepsch's description walking in and out of May's on surveillance video the day of the shooting.

"I watched the individual walk into May's photo at approximately 1:55 p.m. At 2:57 p.m. the same person comes out of the store carrying two large duffel bags or bags in each hand as well as a back pack on his back," said detective Mike Blokhuis.

When investigators searched Lepsch's home they found 14 items stolen from May's Photo. They say the amount of equipment missing from May's was worth between $17,000 and $20,000.

Investigators say they figured out the items were from May's by matching the serial numbers of missing equipment with the equipment in Lepsch's home.

After Lepsch was arrested, a woman came forward saying she had recently bought camera equipment from Lepsch.

Investigators say they were also able to trace the equipment to May's.

"The serial number on the camera matched. The serial number on the lens matched the one that was taken," said La Crosse police investigator Tony Delap.

Prosecutors also worked to start building the case for why Lepsch may have committed the crimes.

One investigator says Lepsch was not doing well financially.

"There are 8 or 9 accounts in Jeffery's name or in his wife's name. Three of those are children under the amount of $1. One account under Jeff's photography which is $118 in the negative, an account with $126 and an account with $136 in the negative. He also has a $61,000 mortgage on his house," said La Crosse police detective Matt Malott.

Lepsch is still being held in La Crosse County Jail on a $2 million cash bond.