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Feds rejected Rodriguez plea deal to avoid death penalty

April 12, 2018

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — Documents show a man sentenced to death for killing a University of North Dakota student more than a decade ago offered to plead guilty to avoid the death penalty.

KFGO obtained the previously undisclosed 2006 letter in Alfonso Rodriguez Jr.’s case from federal court files this week.

Rodriguez’s attorney, Richard Ney, wrote to then-U.S. Attorney Drew Wrigley that the plea would spare pain for Rodriguez’s family and that of his victim, Dru Sjodin of Pequot Lakes, Minnesota.

The offer was rejected and Rodriguez, of Crookston, Minnesota, was convicted later that year of kidnapping and killing Sjodin. His appeal of his death sentence is still working its way through the courts.

Then-U.S. Attorney Drew Wrigley declined to comment on the letter. But he told KFGO in a 2015 interview that he stands behind his work on the case.

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This story has been corrected to show that station obtained letter from court, not Rodriguez. It also corrects the date of his conviction to 2006, not 2005.

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Information from: KFGO-AM, http://www.kfgo.com

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