Appeal for Dru Sjodin’s killer delayed again
FARGO -- The lengthy appeals process of North Dakota's only federal death penalty case has been delayed again.U.S. District Court Judge Ralph Erickson canceled an evidentiary hearing set for Wednesday in the case of Alfonso Rodriguez Jr., who was...
FARGO - The lengthy appeals process of North Dakota’s only federal death penalty case has been delayed again.
U.S. District Court Judge Ralph Erickson canceled an evidentiary hearing set for Wednesday in the case of Alfonso Rodriguez Jr., who was sentenced to death for kidnapping, raping and murdering University of North Dakota student Dru Sjodin, of Pequot Lakes, more than 12 years ago.
The 22-year-old disappeared from a Grand Forks shopping mall parking lot in late November 2003 and Rodriguez, a convicted sex offender, was arrested in early December of that year. After extensive searches, her body was discovered the following spring in a ravine near Rodriguez’s home in Crookston.
Jurors in the federal case found Rodriguez guilty at a 2006 trial and later sentenced him to be executed. He’s been in federal prison awaiting death by lethal injection for nearly nine years.
It wasn’t clear what evidence attorneys would argue about at the hearing set for Wednesday. Many of the appeals arguments made in recent years in the case have been sealed from the public.
There are two upcoming hearings in the case, both several months off, which were set by Erickson last fall.
A hearing on Rodriguez’s mental health issues is set for October. His defense has argued Rodriguez isn’t mentally competent enough to be executed.
A hearing covering forensics issues is set for January 2017.
Defense attorneys have also challenged the case on the basis of alleged juror misconduct, claiming that one of the 12 jurors hadn’t disclosed some personal information that could have kept her off the jury - including a history of abusive relationships.