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Forum News Service, Published March 29 2013

Girlfriend admits witness tampering, arson

DULUTH – Sandra Kay Couture testified Friday that she threatened witnesses and set fire to the home of a witness’s family member because her boyfriend, Joseph John Couture, didn’t want them to provide evidence against him in his trial for the murder of Trina Langenbrunner.

Sandra Couture, 40, of Cloquet, pleaded guilty to first-degree aggravated witness tampering and first-degree arson before Judge Dale Harris in State District Court.

Joseph Couture, 41, is charged with second-degree murder and second-degree criminal sexual conduct in the 2000 death of Langenbrunner. He also is accused of witness tampering. St. Louis County sheriff’s deputies arrested Joseph Couture in June after working the case for nearly a dozen years.

Langenbrunner, a 33-year-old mother of three, was last seen hitchhiking on Sept. 3, 2000. Joseph Couture, now 41, was a neighbor of Langenbrunner at the time. The victim’s stabbed body was discovered off a rural road in southern St. Louis County.

Under the terms of a plea agreement Sandra Couture reached with the St. Louis County Attorney’s Office, she would serve an eight-year, eight-month prison sentence for the witness tampering conviction and a seven-year sentence for the arson conviction. The sentences would be served at the same time.

Harris directed that an Arrowhead Regional Corrections probation officer investigate Sandra Couture’s background before sentencing May 13.