Koula’s new attorneys present case for possible re-trial

Eric Koula was convicted of killing parents in 2012

The West Salem man convicted of killing his parents nearly four years ago headed back to a La Crosse County courtroom Friday afternoon looking for a new trial.

Forty-four-year-old Eric Koula is serving a life sentence for the homicides, but he is was hoping to win an appeal for a new trial.

Koula was convicted two years ago for killing his parents, Dennis and Merna Koula, in their town of Barre Mills home in May 2010.

Friday afternoon’s hearing stems from his new defense attorneys’, who filed a post-conviction motion back in November saying the judge wrongly excluded evidence and also gave the jury unclear instructions regarding testimony made outside the courtroom.    

Koula’s new defense attorney suggests his original team of lawyers was ineffective during the trial.

During the post-conviction motion, there was some confusion in the courtroom between the defense and prosecuting attorneys.

Three out of four of Koula’s original defense attorneys took the stand on Friday to talk about their decisions during the trial. Koula’s new defense attorney focused on the language used in the jury instructions. When jurors go into deliberation, the judge gives them a set of instructions to help them consider all of the evidence.

The new defense is saying the judge gave the jury an instruction that was wrong, and the defense team didn’t object to it.

“Testimony today was that the defense actually proposed the instruction but there was some confusion about whether or not they asked the judge to give a different instruction, and that is where some of the confusion came in; because it didn’t reflect what the transcript said or the note said,” said Tim Gruenke, the district attorney of La Crosse County.

Dennis Koula’s brother and sister-in-law, Leroy and Marelen Koula, were at the hearing on Friday and said they are just ready for this to be over with.   

 “We knew that he could do this but was hoping he would realize what he’s done and admit to it,” said Marlene.

“If he would admit to it and get it over with, the whole family could be relieved of it,” said Leroy.

Nothing was decided in court on Friday, however, now the judge will have a chance to look over the transcripts from Friday and the original trial to put together a written order. The judge is not expected to make a decision regarding the motion for an appeal until August.