Rock County District Attorney David O’Leary this morning filed three charges of first-degree intentional homicide against Koepp, 48, who is an inmate at Columbia Correctional Institution in Portage.
Koepp was arrested Jan. 17, 2007, five days after Danyetta’s father, Russ Lucht, discovered the bodies in the Lentz family mobile home just south of Janesville. But O’Leary delayed filing murder charges until today.
“At this point, I’m satisfied that we have all (the evidence) that we’re going to have from the criminal investigation,” O’Leary said when asked what he knows now that he didn’t know a month or two ago.
“Our (Wisconsin) crime lab and the crime lab out east have forwarded their reports to our office, and we have had the opportunity to review that information,” the district attorney said.
The next step in the legal process will be Koepp’s initial court appearance at 4 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 31. O’Leary anticipates that Koepp will appear by video conference from Columbia Correctional Institution.
Koepp’s attorneys can request a preliminary hearing within 10 days of his initial appearance to determine if there is enough evidence to conclude that he probably committed the crimes.
They can waive the time limit or the hearing altogether.
Further hearings will be scheduled after Koepp’s initial appearance.
On March 30, he was sentenced to four years in prison on convictions for first-degree recklessly endangering safety and third-offense drunken driving. The charges resulted from a chase he led deputies on when he was supposed to be talking to detectives about the Lentz killings.
Many observers think the prison sentence alleviated the case’s sense of urgency for both O’Leary and the crime lab analysts who were in Madison and a lab on the East Coast.
Others think the prison sentence gave the prosecutor and labs time to do thorough tests and review of the massive amount of potential evidence in the case.
His office has a heavy workload, O’Leary said, and December was particularly busy because he and his staff dealt with several high-profile cases in a month whose work days were shortened by the holidays.
O’Leary would not comment further on the case.
In a news release, he cited Supreme Court rules that prohibit a district attorney from making statements to the media outside of court that have a good chance of prejudicing the case.
The bans include statements on “the results of any examination or test or the nature of physical evidence expected to be presented,” according to O’Leary’s news release.
The chronology of events in the worst murder case in Rock County history:
Rock County deputies and detectives seal off the crime scene and call for help from the Wisconsin State Crime Laboratory, which sends a mobile crime lab and its own investigators.
Authorities think the Lentzes were murdered the night before.
Koepp is a registered sex offender. He served prison time for a 1982 assault in Dane County in which he forced two women at knifepoint to perform sex acts, including intercourse with him.
When he is stopped, Koepp, extremely upset and crying, tells deputies: "I just wanted to say goodbye to my wife. … I didn't mean to kill anyone. … Why are you worried about a drunk driving when you are pinning three murders on me?" according to a criminal complaint filed against him three days later.
That complaint charged Koepp with knowingly fleeing an officer, first-degree reckless endangerment, third-offense drunken driving and third-offense driving with a prohibited alcohol concentration.
Bond is set at $60,000 cash.
Spoden sticks to his guns that Koepp is the sole suspect.
Authorities gather the samples in case it's necessary to explain male DNA other than Koepp's in the Lentz home.
Bates sentences Koepp to four years in prison and five years of extended supervision.
Authorities think Koepp's claim of an affair with Danyetta was a ruse to explain why his DNA was in the Lentz trailer and on Danyetta's body. Her relatives vehemently deny any intimate relationship between Danyetta and Koepp.
A crime lab somewhere on the East Coast is analyzing a potentially crucial piece of evidence. O'Leary still doesn't have the final report from the Wisconsin State Crime Laboratory.
Koepp sits in prison.
Several high-profile cases consume O'Leary and other staff members' time in a month with fewer work days because of the holidays.