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Man asks for attorney to appeal life sentence

MISSOULA – A man serving a life sentence without parole for a grisly 2004 murder has asked for a defense attorney so he can appeal the federal United States District Court of Montana. 

In a self-written appeal notice James Arthur Couture, 56, asked for an attorney, but did not list on what grounds he was filing the appeal, made on July 1. Couture was denied an appeal to the Montana Supreme Court in January. He has unsuccessfully appealed that court three times since he was convicted in 2006. 

The latest Montana Supreme Court ruling cited the original district court judge’s reason that Couture should be behind bars for the rest of his life. 

“The reasons for the sentence is that a life was taken,” the judge wrote. “A life was taken with malice and with intention, and with forethought. The victim ... was left to bleed to death on the floor of the defendant’s house. The court has significant concerns with the fact there were plans to execute people.”

Nineteen-year-old Daniel McLeod was killed in the case, after Couture shot the teen more than 20 times. In addition to deliberate homicide charges, Couture was convicted of tampering with evidence for dumping McLeod’s body in Flathead River and disposing of the gun used to kill the teen. 

Couture is incarcerated at the Crossroads Detention Facility in Shelby. 

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