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Cloquet man gets nearly 40 years in 2000 murder

DULUTH — It took him nearly 13 years to admit it, but before a full St. Louis County courtroom, Joseph John Couture testified Friday that he beat and stabbed Trina Louise Langenbrunner to death on Sept. 3, 2000.

Couture, 42, of Cloquet, pleaded guilty to intentional second-degree murder, first-degree aiding and abetting aggravated witness tampering, and aiding and abetting first-degree arson.

Judge Dale Harris accepted the plea agreement reached between the defendant and the St. Louis County Attorney’s Office and immediately sentenced Couture to nearly 40 years in prison.

Under terms of the plea agreement, Couture was sentenced to 386 months in prison on the murder conviction and 86 months in prison for the witness-tampering conviction, to be served one after the other. He was sentenced to 129 months in prison on the arson conviction, to be served at the same time as the murder conviction.

Langenbrunner, a 33-year-old mother of three, last was seen hitchhiking in the area of Brookston Road between 1:30 and 2 a.m. on Sept. 3, 2000. Couture was a neighbor of Langenbrunner at the time. The victim’s beaten and stabbed body was discovered off a rural road in southern St. Louis County.

The arson charge was related to the burning down of the home of a witness’s relative.

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