Wisconsin News

Eric Koula sentenced to life in prison

LA CROSSE, Wis. -- The West Salem man convicted of killing his parents will spend the rest of his life behind bars.

A judge handed down the sentence Wednesday, two months after a jury found Eric Koula guilty in the shooting deaths of Dennis and Merna Koula in 2010.

By the time Eric Koula was escorted into the courtroom Wednesday morning, it was already packed.

But it was quiet enough to hear a pin drop as his sister, Cynthia Cowell, shared her victim impact statement.

"When I would complain about things to my mom, she would say, 'Life is not fair. It is what you make of it.' She was right. Life is not fair. If it was, mom and dad would still be here with us, not buried in West Salem," said Cowell. "Your honor, life is not fair. All I can ask for is justice."

That justice came in the form of two consecutive life sentences without parole.

"You took the life of the two people who gave you life, and you'll spend the rest of your life incarcerated," said Judge Scott Horne.


Horne also sentenced Koula to six years in state prison for forging a $50,000 check in his father's name.

"Your father, frankly, was the person you should have become. Someone who earned what he had through skill and hard work. They should be enjoying retirement and a quiet life with family and friends, and you took that from them," said Horne. "Your children will grow up without their father, who will be incarcerated, and you're responsible for that loss."

Defense attorney James Koby said Horne's strong words mean little for the appeal he's putting together.

"It means nothing for the appeals case. From our perspective, that's the judge's thoughts. I've got some very strong thoughts about the state's case," said Koby. "And I've got some very strong thoughts about my client's innocence."

In his first public words since the guilty verdict, Koula said he's not going down without a fight.

"I will not quit. Who is responsible for this is still out there. I'm not giving up. I'm going to fight and fight and bring this person or people forward that did this, because I did not. I'm going to do this for my family. I pray that I will be able to go home and be with them someday," said Koula.

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