Prosecutors: Man claims self-defense in deadly altercation in La Crosse Menards lot

LA CROSSE — A deadly altercation in the parking lot of a Menards store in La Crosse has resulted in reckless homicide charges.

Matthew Kinstler, 50, is being held in the death of 79-year-old Russell Paulson. Kinstler was charged Monday with first-degree reckless homicide.

According to a criminal complaint, Kinstler accused Paulson of dinging his SUV in the Menards parking lot May 1, began yelling at him and tipped the cowboy hat off his head.

Paulson slapped Kinstler who then took Paulson’s walking stick and struck him in the head, causing him to fall to the ground, the complaint said.

Police arrived to find Paulson bleeding from his head, ear and mouth, the La Crosse Tribune reported. He died at Mayo Clinic Health System May 4.

Kinstler told police he acted in self-defense. He is being held on a $100,000 cash bond in the La Crosse County Jail. Kinstler faces a maximum of 60 years in prison if convicted.

Kinstler will be back in La Crosse County Circuit Court Friday after public defender Araysa Simpson asked for time to talk to the defendant because of jail restrictions due to the coronavirus.