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US no longer seeking death for man convicted in Sjodin case

By By JIM SALTER - Associated Press,

2023-03-14

U.S. prosecutors said Tuesday that they will no longer seek the death penalty for the man convicted in the kidnapping and killing of college student Dru Sjodin in 2003 in a case that led to changes in sex offender registration laws.

U.S. Attorney Mac Schneider said in a news release that following a directive from Attorney General Merrick Garland, he filed a notice withdrawing his effort to seek the death penalty for Alfonso Rodriguez Jr.

“My thoughts today are with Dru Sjodin’s family, particularly her parents, Linda Walker and Allan Sjodin,” Schneider said in the release. “They are genuinely good people and loving parents who in the wake of an unimaginable loss have worked closely with our office for nearly 20 years. We continue to wish them the greatest measure of peace possible.”

Messages left with Rodriguez's attorney and with the attorney general's office wasn't immediately returned.

It’s not the first time Rodriguez has avoided the death penalty in the case. In September 2021, then U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson ruled that misleading testimony from the coroner, the failure of lawyers to outline the possibility of an insanity defense, and evidence of severe post-traumatic stress disorder had violated Alfonso Rodriguez Jr.’s constitutional rights. Erickson ordered a new sentencing phase be conducted.

Rodriguez has been on death row at a federal prison for nearly two decades in the death of Sjodin, a Minnesota woman who was abducted from a Grand Forks mall parking lot in November 2003.

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