Holmen man sentenced to 8 years in prison for killing man in La Crosse Menards parking lot in 2020

LA CROSSE (WKBT) — A Holmen man is headed to prison for a homicide that took place in 2020 in the La Crosse Menards parking lot in.

La Crosse County Circuit Court Judge Elliot Levine sentenced 52-year-old Matthew Kinstler Friday to eight years behind bars.

One moment can change a person’s life.

“I met Russ when I was 16. I knew I loved him then,” Russell Paulson’s wife said at the sentencing hearing.

For better and for worse.

“How that simple decision destroyed so many people’s lives,” Levine said.

On May 1, 2020, Kinstler accused 79-year-old Russell Paulson of parking too close to his in the parking lot of the Menards at 233 Lang Drive. Prosecutors said Kinstler pushed Paulson and hit Paulson with his own cane.

“She told me he had been beaten, had multiple skull fractures, his brain was bleeding and he would not survive this and I should leave now if I wanted to be with him at the end,” Paulson’s son said during the hearing.

Paulson fell face-first to ground and died from his injuries.

“This is like a video that plays in my head. It goes away for a little while but it is always there,” Paulson’s wife said.

Kinstler pled no contest to first-degree reckless homicide.

Levine said the sentence sends “a strong signal to the community that violence is not acceptable. And a strong signal to Mr. Kinstler and keeps him away from the community for a long period of time.”

Paulson’s family members had asked for a 20-year sentence.

“Which would allow Mr. Kinstler to be released at approximately the age my father was when he was killed,” Paulson’s son said.

Kinstler’s defense asked for probation, arguing he suffers from mental illness and was not taking his medication..

“There was a number of months where he did not have the medication that he needs,” Kinstler’s attorney said.

Levine ruled Kinstler would need to work on his history of anger.

“You need to control the impulsivity, the anger and the response. You need to learn coping skills,” he said.

As for Paulson’s family, they say he was taken away too soon.

“He never wished for much. A good cup of coffee, seeing a bird in flight, or the Sunday paper,” Paulson’s wife said.

After Kinstler is released from prison, he will serve six years on extended supervision. While under extended supervision, Kinstler cannot use controlled substances without prescription or go to a bar. Kinstler chose not to speak at the hearing.

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