The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

September 3, 2013

Man gets life for killing father, son in La Crosse

LA CROSSE, Wis. (AP) — A Minnesota man has been sentenced to life in prison without release for the shooting deaths of a western Wisconsin photography store owner and his teenage son last fall.

Jeffrey Lepsch, of Dakota, Minn., did not make a statement during the sentencing in La Crosse County Tuesday, according to the La Crosse Tribune.

The 40-year-old was found guilty in July of killing 56-year-old Paul Petras and his 19-year-old son A.J. in May's Photo in La Crosse on Sept. 15, 2012. He was also convicted of robbing them of $17,000 worth of equipment.

Family and attorneys kept statements short during the 45-minute hearing.

"I feel bad for his kids, but it was his decision. He shouldn't have taken our family from us," said Sherri Petras, Paul's wife and A.J.'s mother.

The prosecution had argued during trial that Lepsch needed the camera equipment to sell for cash to pay off debt and support his family.

"It was intentional. It was thought out. It was calculating," District Attorney Tim Gruenke said Tuesday.

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