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Life in prison for man convicted in beheading of college researcher

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news Bemidji, 56619

Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

COOPERSTOWN, N.D. - Daniel Evan Wacht showed little if any response today as North Dakota District Judge Jim Hovey sentenced him to life in prison without parole for the murder of a North Dakota State University researcher.

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Kurt Johnson, 54, was last was seen alive about 10 p.m. on New Year's Eve 2010 as Wacht helped him into Wacht's van. Johnson reportedly was very drunk and Wacht offered to drive him home from the Oasis bar in Cooperstown.

Friends reported Johnson missing by Jan. 3 and Wacht was questioned and arrested Jan. 5 on an outstanding warrant from California. On a third search of Wacht's home, Johnson's severed head was found and Wacht soon was charged with his murder.

After sentencing, Wacht, 31, was immediately driven to Bismarck to be incarcerated in the state prison.

"I want him to sit a long, long time," in prison, said Kory Johnson, the brother of the victim, who was among the family members at the sentencing. "A death sentence would be the easy way out."

North Dakota has no death penalty.

Wacht's court-appointed attorney, Steve Mottinger, said he will file an appeal.

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