Alfonso Rodriguez Jr., a convicted sex offender, has had his death sentence changed to life in prison for the brutal murder of a North Dakota college student two decades ago
In 2007, Rodriguez was found guilty of kidnapping 22-year-old Dru Sjodin on November 22, 2003, from a shopping mall in Grand Forks. He subjected her to sexual assault, slit her throat, and left her to perish in a ravine near Crookston, Minnesota. Sjodin, a University of North Dakota student, was discovered deceased five months later.
Earlier this year, U.S. Attorney Mac Schneider in North Dakota filed a notice in federal court, retracting his pursuit of the death penalty for Rodriguez. This decision came after U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland‘s directive. Consequently, life imprisonment without the possibility of parole became the sole viable sentencing option for Rodriguez.
Judge Erickson had previously overturned Rodriguez’s death sentence in September 2021
Judge Erickson ruled that the defendant’s constitutional rights had been violated during the trial due to misleading testimony from the coroner, the failure of defense attorneys to present the option of an insanity defense, and evidence indicating severe post-traumatic stress disorder.
As of Tuesday, Rodriguez remains on death row in a maximum security penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana. Inquiries were made to determine if he has been relocated or transferred to a different facility.
It is worth noting that in 2021, Attorney General Garland declared a moratorium on federal executions following criticism of the Justice Department for pursuing the death penalty, despite President Joe Biden‘s opposition to capital punishment.