Judge: Rodriquez can’t use intellectual disability as factor

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — A federal judge says defense attorneys cannot use intellectual disability as a factor in the second death penalty debate for a man convicted in the 2003 kidnapping and killing of University of North Dakota student Dru Sjodin.

Judge Ralph Erickson last year ordered a new sentencing phase for Alfonso Rodriguez Jr., after ruling that misleading testimony from the coroner and other factors had violated Rodriguez’s constitutional rights. Defense attorneys then asked Erickson to reconsider intellectual disability as a defense.

The judge said in an order last week that it cannot be used to consider Rodriguez’s eligibility for capital punishment.

Rodriguez, a convicted sex offender from Crookston, Minnesota, is being held in a federal jail.