Feds to appeal reversal in North Dakota death penalty case

FARGO, N.D. (AP) – Federal prosecutors plan to appeal a ruling that overturned the death sentence for a Minnesota man convicted of kidnapping and killing a University of North Dakota student.

A jury in 2006 convicted Alfonso Rodriguez Jr., of Crookston, Minnesota, in the killing of 22-year-old Dru Sjodin, of Pequot Lakes, Minnesota.

The same jury sentenced Rodriguez to death in the first and only federal capital punishment case in North Dakota.

Prosecutors filed a one-page notice Thursday with the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that they were challenging the ruling by Judge Ralph Erickson, who oversaw Rodriguez’s trial and is now a member of the 8th Circuit.

Last year Erickson ordered a new sentencing phase for Rodriguez after ruling that Rodriguez’s constitutional rights were violated.