Juror gives inside view of triple homicide deliberations
Koepp murder trial
JANESVILLE DNA evidence made it easy to convict James Koepp of triple homicide, but one juror initially believed he was not guilty, a juror said Wednesday.
“Once we told him you have to look at the evidence provided to us … he said, ‘Yes, I have to admit, guilty,’” Jean Koessl said.
Koessl was one of 12 jurors who found Koepp guilty of three charges of first-degree intentional homicide in the January 2007 stabbings and strangulations of Danyetta Lentz and her teen children, Nicole and Scott.
Nine men and seven women, including four alternates, were selected in Kenosha County. Judge Alan Bates ruled Koepp couldn’t get a fair trial from local jurors because of pretrial publicity.
Rock County will pay about $15,000 for the jurors’ pay, hotel, food and transportation costs, Clerk of Circuit Court Eldred Mielke said.
The Gazette tried to contact all 12 jurors. Others couldn’t be reached or declined to comment.
Jurors sat at a table in a conference room with a white board during deliberations, Koessl said. One juror wrote notes about important evidence on the board.
When jurors started deliberating, they gave their opinion and reasons for whether they believed Koepp was guilty, she said.
Then jurors discussed the unanswered questions:
-- How could Koepp have killed three people at once without anyone trying to help others or run away?
-- Did Koepp act alone?
-- How come no one heard anything?
“We will never know,” Koessl said. “I think that is something that will go unanswered. The only person that has that answer is the killer.”
The juror who initially believed Koepp was not guilty was easily persuaded to join the others, Koessl said.
Jurors began going over evidence in detail, she said.
They talked about crime scene photos, exhibits and interview transcripts, Koessl said. They discussed how Koepp ran from police and lied to investigators.
But the blood and DNA evidence was overwhelming, she said.
The victims’ blood was on the jeans and shirt Koepp wore the night of the murders, prosecutors said.
A bloody tie used to strangle the victims had Koepp’s DNA on it, they said.
Nicole’s and Danyetta’s fingernails had Koepp’s DNA underneath them, probably from clawing and scratching their murderer, prosecutors said.
Koepp’s DNA also was found in blood on the showerhead and body scrubber in the Lentz home, they said.
“There was no way we could not come back with the verdict we came back with,” Koessl said. “The evidence outstood everything that was presented by the defense.”
Thirty minutes after deliberations began, jurors agreed Koepp was guilty, Koessl said. The remaining hour was spent reviewing evidence to be sure.
Jurors unanimously voted “guilty” on their first official vote, she said.
“I think we did what we had to do,” Koessl said. “I’m confident with the verdict that we came up with … we all came to the conclusions we came to 100 percent.”
Koepp will be sentenced to three life terms at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 27. Attorneys will argue whether he should be eligible for parole.
In Koessl’s mind, Koepp’s guilt was never in doubt.
“I think he was a manipulative, cold-blooded killer,” she said. “He knew what he was going there to do.”
Yet she can’t explain how he did it.
“It’s just a lot of speculation,” she said.