Prosecution may seek first-degree murder charge against Cloquet manCloquet resident Joseph John Couture, 41, accused of stabbing Trina Langenbrunner to death nearly 12 years ago, appeared in State District Court in Duluth on Thursday. The prosecution told the court that it hasn’t decided whether to seek a first-degree murder indictment against him.
By: Mark Stodghill/Forum Communications, Pine Journal
The Cloquet man accused of stabbing Trina Langenbrunner to death nearly 12 years ago appeared in State District Court in Duluth on Thursday and the prosecution told the court that it hasn’t decided whether to seek a first-degree murder indictment against him.
Joseph John Couture, 41, is charged with intentional second-degree murder and second-degree criminal sexual conduct in Langenbrunner’s Sept. 3, 2000, slaying.
Couture was arrested at his Cloquet home on June 15 after two unidentified witnesses told investigators that he had admitted killing the 33-year-old mother of three. Authorities wouldn’t comment on why the witnesses took so long to come forward.
Prosecutors Jessica Smith and Jonathan Holets and defense attorneys Cynthia Evenson and Kevin Cornwell didn’t present the court any major pre-trial issues to resolve during a perfunctory seven-minute hearing.
Smith told Senior Judge Kenneth Sandvik that her office hasn’t made a decision on whether to present the case to a grand jury, which is required in Minnesota to bring a first-degree murder charge.
Evenson told the court that the prosecution has had the case for about six months. She said the defense hasn’t received the discovery (evidence) and speculated that it might take six months to prepare for a hearing to contest any evidence accumulated by the prosecution.
Evenson said the defense wasn’t seeking to reduce Couture’s $1 million bail at this time. Couture is being held in the St. Louis County Jail.
Sandvik told the parties that a date for the next hearing couldn’t be scheduled until a judge is assigned to hear the case.
Langenbrunner was last 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 stabbed body was discovered off a rural road in southern St. Louis County.
The defendant has provided a number of statements to authorities. He said he knew the victim but had no contact with her for a significant amount of time before her death. However, he admitted he was driving his gray minivan in the immediate area and at the approximate time the victim was last seen alive.