Wisconsin News

Eric Koula found guilty of killing parents

LA CROSSE, Wis. -- A West Salem man has been found guilty of killing his parents over money.

Eric Koula, 42, faced two counts of first-degree intentional homicide for the May 2010 shooting deaths of Dennis and Merna Koula at their home in Barre Mills.

The verdict was read at around 3:30 p.m. Wednesday at the La Crosse County Courthouse. The 12-person jury had been deliberating for more than 20 hours.

Koula also was convicted of forging a $50,000 check from his parents' investment account. He faces life in prison at sentencing August 20.

Prosecutors argued Koula shot Dennis and Merna Koula for the inheritance. Defense attorneys blamed a professional killer.

Jurors found that Koula executed his mother at her home office computer, and then waited about 15 minutes for his father and shot him as he walked in.

Koula claimed he was grouting a bathroom and shopping for his wife's anniversary present at the time. But store surveillance video didn't support his alibi.

The family declined to comment on the verdict, but some family members did give prosecutor and La Crosse County District Attorney Tim Gruenke a message for the public.

"It's been an exhausting process and the family's very grateful to have it concluded. I don't know that they're happy. They're still sad that Dennis and Merna aren't here, but they expressed relief that the jury came to the decision that they did and that there's some finality at this point," said Gruenke.

As Koula returns to his jail cell Wednesday night, the prosecution can finally put this trial to rest.

"I think we gave it all we had. I don't know that I have anything left to give, physically, emotionally, mentally. I think we gave it all we got. And, thankfully, the jury saw it the way we did," said Gruenke.

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