Alfonso Rodriguez Jr. death penalty still uncertain: U.S. Attorney General may withdraw authorization for capital punishment

A federal judge says defense attorneys cannot use intellectual disability as a factor in the...
A federal judge says defense attorneys cannot use intellectual disability as a factor in the second death penalty debate for Alfonso Rodriguez Jr., a man convicted in the 2003 kidnapping and killing of University of North Dakota student Dru Sjodin.
Published: Jun. 8, 2022 at 7:27 PM CDT
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FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - The fate of convicted murderer Alfonso Rodriguez Jr. is still uncertain as the U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland reconsiders the authorization of the death penalty in North Dakota.

In November of 2003, University of North Dakota student Dru Sjodin was abducted while walking home from her job near Crookston, Minnesota. Police arrested a suspect 10 days later- a convicted sex offender from Minnesota that had been released after serving nine months of a 23-year sentence.

Five months after this arrest was made, Dru’s body was discovered.

Alfonso Rodriguez Jr. was found to be guilty of the abduction and murder of Dru Sjodin by a jury in 2007 and sentenced to death. The judge that presided over the hearing, Judge Ralph Erikson, has since reversed his decision to execute Rodriguez on the grounds that his defense attorneys were ineffective, and did not challenge the medical examiner’s report as they should have.

The defense is asking for the authorization of the death penalty to be revoked, and for Rodriguez to granted a second sentencing. If the authorization is revoked, Rodriguez will face life in prison.

Whether or not prosecutors will continue to be allowed to seek capital punishment in North Dakota is up to Attorney Garland.

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