Feds drop appeal in Sjodin killing, still seek death penalty

Mar 25, 2022, 12:19 AM | Updated: 12:26 pm

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Federal prosecutors are dropping their appeal of a judge’s decision to overturn the death sentence for a Minnesota man convicted in the 2003 kidnapping and killing of Dru Sjodin, but they said they still intend to seek the death penalty when he is resentenced.

In a court filing Friday, prosecutors and defense attorneys for Alfonso Rodriguez Jr. voluntarily agreed to dismiss the appeal. Interim U.S. Attorney Nicholas Chase told The Associated Press that the case will now be set for a resentencing, as the judge ordered, and “we are still seeking the death penalty.”

Rodriguez was convicted in 2006 of kidnapping Sjodin, a 22-year-old University of North Dakota student, resulting in her death. The Crookston man was sentenced to death in the first and only federal capital punishment case in North Dakota.

Last year, the judge who oversaw Rodriguez’s trial overturned the death penalty and ordered that a new sentencing phase be conducted, ruling that Rodriguez’s constitutional rights were violated.

Judge Ralph Erickson, who is now on the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, ruled that the coroner gave misleading testimony, lawyers failed to outline a possible insanity defense and there was evidence of severe post-traumatic stress disorder.

Friday’s court filing does not explain why prosecutors dismissed their appeal. Chase had no further comment.

In order to appeal, prosecutors needed permission from the Biden administration. The Justice Department under President Joe Biden halted federal executions last summer, pending a review of the department’s policies and procedures.

If prosecutors would have been successful on appeal, the death penalty would have been reinstated. If they would have lost their appeal, the case would would have proceeded with resentencing, just as it is now.

Authorities said Rodriguez, a convicted sex offender, kidnapped Sjodin from the parking lot of a Grand Forks, North Dakota, shopping mall in November 2003 and drove her to Minnesota, where he killed her and left her body in a field near Crookston.

Sjodin’s kidnapping sparked days of massive searches, reshaped the way Minnesota handled sex offenders and led to the national sex offender registry being renamed for her. Sjodin was from Pequot Lakes, Minnesota.

Rodriguez’s conviction remains in place. He is currently locked up at a federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana.


Associated Press writer Dave Kolpack contributed from Fargo, N.D.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


File - People shop at an Apple store in the Westfield Garden State Plaza mall in Paramus, New Jerse...
Associated Press

A key inflation gauge tracked by the Fed slowed in February

The Federal Reserve's favored inflation gauge slowed sharply last month, an encouraging sign in the Fed's yearlong effort to cool price pressures through steadily higher interest rates.
2 days ago
FILE - The OpenAI logo is seen on a mobile phone in front of a computer screen displaying output fr...
Associated Press

Musk, scientists call for halt to AI race sparked by ChatGPT

Are tech companies moving too fast in rolling out powerful artificial intelligence technology that could one day outsmart humans?
3 days ago
Associated Press

Starbucks leader grilled by Senate over anti-union actions

Longtime Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz faced sharp questioning Wednesday before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee
4 days ago
FILE - The overdose-reversal drug Narcan is displayed during training for employees of the Public H...
Associated Press

FDA approves over-the-counter Narcan; here’s what it means

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday approved selling naloxone without a prescription, the first over-the-counter opioid treatment.
4 days ago
FILE - A Seattle police officer walks past tents used by people experiencing homelessness, March 11...
Associated Press

Seattle, feds seek to end most oversight of city’s police

  SEATTLE (AP) — The U.S. Justice Department and Seattle officials asked a judge Tuesday to end most federal oversight of the city’s police department, saying its sustained, decade-long reform efforts are a model for other cities whose law enforcement agencies face federal civil rights investigations. Seattle has overhauled virtually all aspects of its police […]
5 days ago
capital gains tax budgets...
Associated Press

Washington moves to end child sex abuse lawsuit time limits

People who were sexually abused as children in Washington state may soon be able to bring lawsuits against the state, schools or other institutions for failing to stop the abuse, no matter when it happened.
5 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Compassion International...

Brock Huard and Friends Rally Around The Fight for First Campaign

Professional athletes are teaming up to prevent infant mortality and empower women at risk in communities facing severe poverty.
Emergency Preparedness...

Prepare for the next disaster at the Emergency Preparedness Conference

Being prepared before the next emergency arrives is key to preserving businesses and organizations of many kinds.
SHIBA volunteer...

Volunteer to help people understand their Medicare options!

If you’re retired or getting ready to retire and looking for new ways to stay active, becoming a SHIBA volunteer could be for you!
safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Feds drop appeal in Sjodin killing, still seek death penalty