federal death penalty trial Jul 3, 2006 19:05:12 GMT -5
Post by Anja on Jul 3, 2006 19:05:12 GMT -5
Sex offender facing death penalty----Indictment calls college student's
manner of death cruel and depraved
The abduction of 22-year-old Dru Sjodin from a shopping center parking lot
and the discovery of her body 5 months later, after an emotional search,
has led to major revisions of sex offender laws in 2 states and to North
Dakota's first federal death penalty case.
Alfonso Rodriguez Jr., 53, a convicted sex offender, is to go on trial
Thursday in federal court in Bismarck. He has pleaded not guilty to a
charge of kidnapping resulting in the death of the University of North
Dakota student more than 2 years ago.
Federal prosecutors have said they will seek the death penalty if he is
"This will be a national trial," said Joseph Daly, a criminal law
professor at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minn. "A federal death
penalty case is quite unusual, especially when you're talking about a
state that doesn't have the death penalty."
The federal indictment says Sjodin was killed "in an especially heinous,
cruel and depraved manner, in that it involved torture and serious
North Dakota's last execution was in 1905. The state's death penalty law
was abolished in 1975.
Sjodin, of Pequot Lakes, Minn., disappeared Nov. 22, 2003, from a Grand
Forks mall where she had gone shopping after getting off work at a
Victoria's Secret store. Moments before, she had talked with her boyfriend
by cell phone.
Hundreds of people, many of them college students, volunteered to search
Rodriguez was arrested within two weeks of Sjodin's disappearance when
police investigated a tip that he was in Grand Forks on the day she
disappeared. His bail was set at $5 million, although Rodriguez asked to
remain in custody for his own safety.
Sjodin's body was found the following April, in a ravine near Crookston,
Minn., where Rodriguez lived with his mother. That's about 25 miles from
Lawmakers in North Dakota and Minnesota approved tougher sentences for sex
offenders, including life without parole for the most serious offenses and
stricter supervision of offenders after they leave prison.
Members of Sjodin's family spoke around the country in favor of a proposed
national sex offender registration, known as "Dru's Law."
(source: Associated Press)