Judge says no new trial in Wisconsin camera store double homicide



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LA CROSSE, Wisconsin — A judge has refused to grant a new trial for a Minnesota man convicted of killing a father and son in a La Crosse camera store more than two years ago.

The La Crosse Tribune reports http://bit.ly/1sR6nS6 that La Crosse County Circuit Judge Ramona Gonzalez on Friday rejected Jeffrey Lepsch's arguments that jurors were biased against him. She said the panel set aside any potential biases and agonized over its decision to convict him.

"The court is absolutely certain that Lepsch was tried by a fair and impartial jury who decided the case based solely on the evidence before them," Gonzalez found.

Lepsch's attorney, Steven Zaleski, said the judge's ruling didn't surprise him. He said he would take the case to a Wisconsin appeals court.

Zaleski contended Lepsch's trial attorneys failed him because they let biased jurors to hear his case. He argued that nine of the 12 jurors believed he was guilty before the trial began or found police more credible than other witnesses.

The jury last year found Lepsch guilty of killing 56-year-old Paul Petras and his 19-year-old son, A.J., at the now-closed May's Photo in downtown La Crosse in September 2012. The elder Petras owned the store.

Lepsch, a broke, unemployed hobby photographer from Dakota, Minnesota, fled after the slayings with camera equipment worth $17,000. Surveillance video as well as cellphone and vehicle records led investigators to him. They tracked every piece of equipment stolen from the store to him, whether the gear was in his home, his van or sold online to support his family.

He was sentenced to consecutive life terms.


Information from: La Crosse Tribune, http://www.lacrossetribune.com

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