Man denied a new trial in camera store killing

41-year-old convicted of killing father, son at La Crosse business
Man denied a new trial in camera store killing

The man convicted of killing a father and son at their downtown La Crosse photo shop was denied a new trial on Friday.

Jeffrey Lepsch, 41, is serving two life sentences for the 2012 murders of 56-year-old Paul Petras and his son, 19-year-old A.J.

Lepsch, an unemployed hobby photographer from Dakota, Minnesota, fled after the slayings with camera equipment worth $17,000.

Lepsch was sentenced in September 2013. He later claimed his trial attorneys were ineffective when it came to removing potentially biased jurors.

On Friday, La Crosse County Judge Ramona Gonzalez said Lepsch received a fair trial. She cited cases from federal court and the Wisconsin Supreme Court supporting her argument that Lepsch received a fair trial.

Gonzalez also had testimony from Lepsch’s trial attorney that he believed the jurors would be unbiased.

“From the court’s position of being able to best determine juror bias, the court is absolutely convinced that each juror was able to put any potential biases out of their minds,” Gonzalez wrote in her decision. “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. The court is unequivocally convinced that the jury agonized over its decision and gave Lepsch every benefit of the doubt.

“The court also does not believe that Lepsch has established that any of the jurors were objectively biased simply because of their use of phrases that can seem equivocal when read in a transcript, without the benefit of being able to read all of the other verbal and nonverbal clues.”

Lepsch’s attorney said he wasn’t surprised by the ruling and will take the case to a state appeals court.