FARGO — Protection attorneys need the US authorities to drop its dying penalty authorization for a person who kidnapped and killed a North Dakota school scholar almost 20 years in the past.
The US Legal professional’s Workplace in North Dakota has requested a second sentencing trial for 69-year-old Alfonso Rodriguez Jr. A jury sentenced Rodriguez to dying in 2007 for the 2003 homicide of 22-year-old Dru Sjodin.
Final 12 months, US Eighth Circuit Court docket of Appeals Choose Ralph Erickson, who oversaw the 2006 trial and sentencing when he was a US district choose, overturned the choice to execute Rodriguez. He dominated protection attorneys have been ineffective in the course of the sentencing portion of the trial.
It is doubtless Erickson will oversee a second sentencing trial
Earlier than that occurs, US Legal professional Basic Merrick Garland must determine whether or not he’ll enable prosecutors to hunt the dying penalty. His predecessor gave the US Legal professional’s Workplace in North Dakota that authorization within the mid-2000s.
The protection mentioned it desires that authorization withdrawn. If that occurs, Rodriguez can be sentenced to life in jail.
It is unclear how quickly a trial might occur if Garland permits prosecutors to proceed to hunt capital punishment towards Rodriguez. Prosecutors mentioned they count on they would want about two to 3 months for a sentencing trial.
Rodriguez’s protection lawyer, Victor Abreau of the Federal Group Defender Workplace in jap Pennsylvania, and media representatives for the US Division of Justice that Garland leads didn’t return messages left by The Discussion board.
Rodriguez stays on dying row for kidnapping Sjodin in November 2003 from Columbia Mall in Grand Forks. Sjodin was a College of North Dakota scholar who labored on the mall. Prosecutors mentioned Rodriguez sexually assaulted Sjodin, marched her down a ravine close to Crookston, Minnesota, slashed her throat and left her for useless within the snow.
Her physique was discovered April 17, 2004.
Erickson dominated in his opinion reversing the dying sentence that protection attorneys in the course of the sentencing portion of the trial ought to have finished extra to problem a health worker’s testimony that mentioned Sjodin died from the slash to her neck. Consultants employed by the protection mentioned Sjodin might have died from strangulation, and an post-mortem report cited suffocation or publicity as doable causes of dying, together with the neck slash.
Erickson additionally famous a psychological well being analysis might have missed a doable madness protection and proof that Rodriguez has extreme post-traumatic stress dysfunction.
Prosecutors filed an enchantment towards Erickson’s ruling however withdrew it earlier this 12 months.
The Justice Division paused federal executions in July to assessment insurance policies and procedures. President Joe Biden beforehand mentioned he needed to finish the dying penalty. Nevertheless, he has not acted to finish the follow.
His administration fought to reinstate the dying penalty in high-profile instances, resembling for Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and Dylann Roof, who killed 9 members of a traditionally Black church in Charleston, South Carolina.
Whereas Rodriguez awaits Garland’s resolution, the protection and prosecution in his case plan to find out a schedule over the following six months to find out what motions should be heard and what proof must be thought of at trial.
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