Jury Gets N.D. Death Penalty Case
Aug. 30, 2006
FARGO, N.D. (AP) _ Jurors began their first full day of deliberations Wednesday in the trial of a convicted sex offender accused of kidnapping a college student, stabbing and raping her and dumping her body in a ravine.
A federal jury of seven women and five men got the case late Tuesday.
If they find Alfonso Rodriguez Jr. guilty of kidnapping resulting in death, a separate trial would be held to decide his sentence. Prosecutors have said they will seek the death penalty; North Dakota does not have the death penalty, but it's allowed in federal cases.
In closing arguments Tuesday, U.S. Attorney Drew Wrigley told jurors Sjodin fought for her life and left ``unmistakable'' evidence about the crime.
Rodriguez's attorney said the government failed to prove its case.
Sjodin, 22, a University of North Dakota student from Pequot Lakes, Minn., was abducted from the parking lot of a Grand Forks shopping mall on Nov. 22, 2003. Her body was found the following April in the ravine near Crookston, Minn. Rodriguez lived in Crookston.
Rodriguez defense attorney, Robert Hoy, said a medical examiner called by prosecutors as a witness could not say for certain where Sjodin died, when she died, or the cause of her death.
Wrigley told jurors that blood found in Rodriguez's car matched Sjodin's DNA, and it was found in a mist pattern, indicating Sjodin fought her attacker and was beaten.
``Ladies and gentlemen, Dru Sjodin battled him every step of the way, and she left us unmistakable messages,'' Wrigley said.