Jeffrey Lepsch trial day 3 recap

Witnesses: Lepsch's DNA was not found at the crime scene, but his palm print was

The afternoon session of the Jeffrey Lepsch trial consisted of testimony about fingerprint analysis, sales from Lepsch’s account, and late electric bills and mortgage payments.

Karley Hujet, a fingerprint and footwear examiner from the Wisconsin State Crime Lab, continued her testimony after the court took a lunch break.

Hujet said she found Lepsch’s partial palm print on a glass countertop from May’s Photo. The palm print was from the outside by the little finger.

“The part that might rest on a countertop if you’re standing next to it?” La Crosse County District Attorney Tim Gruenke asked Hujet.

“Yes,” Hujet said.

The defense asked Hujet a lot of questions about her method of examination. Hujet explained her use of the ACE V process, or guidelines for examination. ACE V stands for Analysis, Comparison, Evaluation, and Verification.


The defense questioned her use of Photoshop in the case. Hujet said she used Photoshop for contrast and color; she did not change anything else on the image. Hujet said it was a clear palm print and was not distorted.

Nick Oliver, a Best Buy employee who manages computer and mobile phones for the company in Onalaska, testified next. He said that Lepsch bought a Fanta orange soda and a 1GB memory card at 3:35 p.m. on September 15, 2012. He confirmed it through Lepsch’s use of his Best Buy Reward Zone card.

There was no video surveillance from Best Buy available for police to view, Oliver said, because they did not have video directed at the cash registers.

Sergeant Mike Blokhuis, a detective with the La Crosse Police Department, testified next. He received a subpoena to look at Lepsch’s Yahoo! Email account. Sgt. Blokhuis testified that Lepsch had sent an email to, wondering why his account was under review.

“If I did something wrong, I’d like to correct it…” Blokhuis said, reading Lepschs’ email to in court. Lepsch sold camera equipment from his studio, Jeff’s Photography out of Dakota, Minnesota. “All I wanted to do was switch my gear from Cannon to Nikon…” the email continued.

Sgt. Blokhuis said Lepsch’s account went back to December 2011. The investigator said there were 13 sales made after September 15, 2012. Sgt. Blokuis said Lepsch also frequented the site Model Mayhem and interacted with potential clients there.

Lepsch was late paying his energy bills and mortgage payments, according to Sgt. Blokhuis. Lepsch made payments every two-to-four months and they were not full payments, Sgt. Blokhuis said.

The court adjourned for the day at about 3:20 p.m. Friday. The trial will continue on Monday at 8:30 a.m. We will be live tweeting @news8news and live streaming the trial at  


During the morning session of the third day of the Jeffrey Lepsch trial, witnesses said Lepsch’s DNA was not found at the crime scene, but his palm print was.

Lepsch, 40, of Dakota, Minnesota, is accused of shooting and killing Paul Petras and his son A.J. in their downtown La Crosse photo shop on September 15, 2012, and then stealing about $17,000 worth of camera equipment.

John Ertl, a forensic scientist who works at the Wisconsin State Crime Lab, said he completed the technical review of the report about DNA analysis that his co-worker recovered, analyzed and reported.

Ertl said his co-worker extracted DNA from the right and left hand of Paul and A.J. Petras. Ertl said DNA was recovered and analyzed and it showed at least two people contributed DNA. The main DNA contributor was the person it was extracted from.

“DNA analysis is like a snapshot in time,” Ertl said. “How it got there or how long it’s been there, we have no idea of knowing.”

Lepsch’s DNA was not found at the crime scene, Ertl testified. Ertl said they did not find A.J. or Paul Pertras’ DNA on back door.

Presence or absence of DNA doesn’t mean it was touched or not, Ertl testified. If the examiner did not find DNA or did not have sufficient DNA, it couldn’t not be further processed, Ertl said. There were several items from May’s Photo where DNA was not able to be extracted, Ertl said. Also, Paul and A.J. Petras’ DNA was not found in Lepsch’s van, Ertl said.

“In and of itself, DNA does not solve a crime,” La Crosse County District Attorney Tim Gruenke said, addressing Ertl.

“I would hope not,” Etl replied.

Karley Hujet, a fingerprint and footwear examiner at the Wisconsin State Crime Lab was the next person to take the stand.

Hujet examined several pieces of glass from May’s Photo, including glass from display case and a from shelf from display case. Hujet was able to pull multiple prints on some items. She did not identify Lepsch’s prints on any items in her first report.

Hujet said in her first report she had inconclusive results and needed better standard prints to compare to. She needed palm prints because there were a lot of unknown prints on glass. Hujet said there were about 105 unknown fingerprints developed in this case, which was more prints than normal for a case. Hujet was given Lepsch’s palm prints and compared them to what she found on the glass from May’s Photo.

Hujet presented her findings on January 24, 2013. She was able to identify the left palm of Lepsch on a glass counter top from glass display case, on the customer side on the top of the glass. During a past interview with authorities shown in court on Thursday, Lepsch told law enforcement he had never been to May’s Photo.

Hujet read the disclaimer from her report, which noted finger and palm prints found at the crime scene does not show significance or time of contact.

Matthew Olesen, a computer forensic expert with the Wisconsin Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI), took the stand earlier in the day. He testified that he reviewed Lepsch’s computer.

Olesen said Lepsch had Internet search history of Craigslist and Olesen took screen shots of Lepsch’s Internet history, but that didn’t tell him the date or content of sites he visited. Olesen said he did not find searches for guns or ammunition. According to the analysis, Lepsch did not look for Petras, nor search May’s Photo.

The court took a break at about 11: 50 a.m. The defense will begin their cross examination of Hujet when court reconvenes at 1 p.m.

You can watch the Lepsch trial live on  Follow us on Twitter as we live tweet on the trial on @news8news.