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Motion hearing set in Koepp case

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Mike DuPre'
July 29, 2008
— A judge this morning scheduled a Sept. 4 hearing to decide if the three murder charges against James C. Koepp should be dismissed.

Koepp’s public defenders, Walt Isaacson and Larry Peterson, have filed two motions in an attempt to get Judge Alan Bates to dismiss the charges against their client.


Koepp, 49, is accused in the slayings of his neighbors Danyetta Lentz and her teenage children, Nicole and Scott, in their mobile home just south of Janesville in January 2007.


Koepp is charged with three counts of first-degree intentional homicide. He appeared in court this morning by phone because he is a prisoner at Columbia Correctional Institution in Portage.


Koepp is serving a four-year sentence on a conviction of fleeing from officers on the night he was supposed to be talking to detectives about the Lentz murders.


One motion from the defense attorneys contends that the preliminary hearing—in which probable cause was found that Koepp committed a felony in the case—was flawed in that Koepp was not allowed to call a DNA analyst from the Wisconsin State Crime Laboratory to testify at the hearing.


The state’s case against Koepp relies heavily on DNA evidence. Prosecutors contend that DNA evidence ties Koepp to the murder victims.


The second motion argues that legal errors were made during the preliminary hearing.


For instance, a deputy testified that some of Koepp’s clothing was submitted to the crime lab for testing. But because the deputy had no direct knowledge the clothing was submitted, Koepp’s attorneys tried to strike the testimony as hearsay, but Bates denied the motion.


Bates also denied defense objections to parts of the crime lab reports that were labeled “conclusions.” The defense argues that was a mistake.


Also mistakes in the defense view were that the prosecution did not mention that Koepp’s DNA was not found on certain key pieces of evidence.



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