Minn. man to stand trial for murder of father, son in La Crosse

Minnesota man to stand trial for murder of father, son in La Crosse, Wis.

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LA CROSSE, Wis. (KMSP) -

A judge in La Crosse, Wis., is sending a Minnesota man to trial for the brutal killings of a father and son in their photography store.

On Thursday, the district attorney laid out a detailed investigation against Jeffrey Lepsch that included surveillance video, cell phone tracking, and ultimately stolen cameras found in his Dakota, Minn., home.

Lepsch shuffled into court as a still-innocent man, but one with mounting evidence stacked against him. He's charged with armed robbery and two counts of murder, accused of killing Paul Petras and his 17-year-old son, A.J., as they were closing up their downtown La Crosse camera store on Sept. 15.

Investigators testified that in addition to finding both father and son shot in the head, cameras were stolen.

"Just upon looking at it, you could tell the display cases had been virtually cleaned out," said Sgt. Jake Jansky.

Surveillance videos from roughly 150 cameras in downtown La Crosse pinpointed a Dodge minivan with an upside-down trailer hitch. DMV records helped detectives locate such a van at Lepsch's house in Dakota, where police found plenty of evidence.

"We collected approximately 15 stolen items that we were sure that were stolen from May's Photo," said Sgt. Patrick Marco, itemizing the cameras, lenses and other accessories found by detectives.

Judge Ramona Gonzalez found enough evidence for a trial and on behalf of Lepsch, entered a plea of not-guilty.

The Petras family was not in court Thursday, but one of Paul's close friends was on hand.

"Every act was just stupid and senseless, and I am angry," said John Brickman.

Lepsch never uttered a word in court, and never acknowledged the court gallery -- or even his wife, who was sitting behind him. His next hearing is scheduled within the next 30 days.

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