Man sentenced for killing 79-year-old man in 2020 in La Crosse

A 79-year-old man died after a fight outside of a La Crosse Menards in 2020. 52-year-old Matthew Kinstler was charged with homicide.
Published: Jun. 3, 2022 at 11:47 AM CDT
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LA CROSSE, Wis. (WEAU) - A man convicted of homicide after causing fatal injuries to a 79-year-old man in a fight outside of a La Crosse Menards in 2020 is sentenced Friday.

Judge Elliott Levine sentenced 52-year-old Matthew Kinstler to eight years in prison and six years of extended supervision in La Crosse County Circuit Court Friday morning on one charge of 1st-degree reckless homicide.

Levine said during sentencing that Kinstler exhibited traits of anti-social behavior and anger in assessments during trial monitoring, and that the incarceration period reflected the seriousness of the offense and punishment for what the court described as an unacceptable outburst of violence.

State prosecutors recommended a 10-year incarceration period, while the family of the victim, Russell Paulson, sought 20 years behind bars. Kinstler’s attorney recommended probation.

On May 1, 2020, the La Crosse Police Department said they were called to a fight in progress in the parking lot of Menards on the north side of the city. An argument between Kinstler and Paulson escalated and became physical, police said. Paulson was taken to Mayo Hospital with injuries and later died, while Kinstler remained at the scene until police arrived. He was arrested at the time for substantial battery and disorderly conduct, but after Paulson died, Kinstler was charged with homicide. A criminal complaint filed with the homicide charge accused Kinstler of threatening to bring a gun to an Aloholics Anonymous meeting the week of the fight in 2020.

The initial cash bond was set at $100,000, but lowered to $5,000, which was posted by Kinstler after 17 days in jail. Kinstler complied with all court monitoring and was eventually released from electronic supervision. Judge Levine noted Friday that Kinstler followed all instructions in the two years between the incident and sentencing.

Sentencing conditions for extended supervision includes no use of alcohol or illegal drugs or to be in any venue or establishment whose primary service is selling alcohol. Kinstler also receives 17 days of jail credit.

Kinstler pleaded no contest to the homicide charge on March 8, 2022 and was found guilty, according to online court records.

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