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Testimony continues in Jeffrey Lepsch trial

LA CROSSE, WI (WTAQ) - Testimony continues Thursday in the La Crosse trial of Jeffrey Lepsch, the man accused of killing two people in a camera store and stealing their equipment so he could pay off an old debt.

56-year-old Paul Petras and his 19-year-old son A.J. were shot to death last September at May’s Photo in downtown La Crosse, which Petras owned. Over $17,000 in camera equipment was stolen.

Sherri Petras, the victims’ mother, testified that she failed repeatedly to reach the two victims by phone – so she went to the store and found A.J. dead.

Dane County medical examiner Vincent Tranchida said Paul Petras was shot at close range, and his son at least three feet away.

Prosecutors also called 5 other witnesses who saw people in the store as it was about to close for the day.

In opening arguments Wednesday, prosecution said surveillance video caught Lepsch’s van at the crime scene – and he left a palm print in the store.

Defense lawyer Vincent Rust said the state relied on bad science. He also claimed that Lepsch was not at the photo store that day, and he said Lepsch may be a thief but not a killer.

Court records show that he owed $60,000 in judgments from a theft case a decade earlier.

The trial is scheduled to continue until a week from Friday.