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A friend of Eric Koula's says he believes investigators wanted him to change his story...
That's what Mike Genz said when questioned in court today at Koula's murder trial in La Crosse. Genz is a defense witness who has said that he and Eric were doing tile work at a house in La Crosse on the afternoon that Eric's parents were killed in Barre Mills. Genz frequently said that the two of them left the house at 5:30 p-m, which would conflict with the police theory that Eric killed his mother 11 minutes later at a house that was eight miles away. Genz said today that they could have left sometime between 5 and 5:30. Genz says Eric was not behaving unusually either that afternoon, or two days later when they spent time together on a boathouse.
Kwik Trip has its deal. The La Crosse city council has agreed to a development arrangement with Kwik Trip that will lead to a big expansion in the industrial park. Part of the agreement will return hundreds of thousands of dollars in property tax dollars to Kwik Trip based on the value of the property it creates. The company will also rent some land from the city and then buy it when some contamination gets cleaned up. The company is also in line to get a million dollars in job credits from the state for the hundred jobs it plans to create.
The prosecution in the Eric Koula murder case says Koula didn't have much money two years ago, but he had a lot of wheels.
Jurors were told on Thursday that Eric Koula owned several vehicles at the time his parents were killed, including two all-terrain vehicles and a snowmobile. Which could lead observers to wonder...if he was short of money, why didn't he try selling some of those vehicles? Defense attorney James Koby posed that question to prosecution witness Mary Jo Werner, who's an accountant. Werner answered that Koula certainly could have sold his possessions to raise money, but he didn't.
Each side presented its own accountant as a witness...with evidence suggesting either that Eric Koula was driven to murder by huge debts, or else that he had lots of money and no reason to want to kill his parents. Today will mark the end of the second week of the trial, which could last another two weeks.
A West Salem man accused of killing his parents for their money was in bad financial shape two years ago, according to an accountant speaking at his trial.
That picture of Eric Koula is in sharp contrast to the defense claim that Eric had lots of money available and very few debts. Today, attorney Jim Koby asked accountant Mary Jo Werner if Eric could have borrowed money against his pickup truck or other vehicles he owned in 2010. Werner says auto loan businesses probably would have turned him down, because of their loan conditions, requiring customers to have a steady paycheck.
Investigators say Koula lost large amounts of money in stock trading, was not working, and was behind on his bills when his parents were murdered. The day after the shootings, Eric cashed a $50,000 check from his father which police think was forged.
The city of La Crosse put one of its prized possessions up for sale several months ago. Now, that prize is back on display.
The former M-T-U trolley was sold to the Lamers Bus Company after a dispute with Washington over how the vehicle was supposed to be used. Lamers and the city have worked out a schedule for sightseeing trolley rides for this year, with tours beginning today.
Regular trolley tours are scheduled on weekends through the summer and early fall. More than 40 private tours also have been booked by the Convention and Visitor Bureau