Judge tosses death sentence in slaying of North Dakota student

State News

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — A federal judge has thrown out the death sentence for a man convicted in the 2003 slaying of a North Dakota college student.

Judge Ralph Erickson ruled Friday that misleading testimony from a medical examiner and limitations on mental health evidence had violated Alfonso Rodriguez Jr.’s constitutional rights. He ordered a new sentencing phase be conducted.

FILE – In this Dec. 3, 2003 file photo, Alfonso Rodriguez Jr., left, is helped into a sheriff’s car after waiving extradition at the Polk County Courthouse in Crookston, Minn. A federal judge on Friday, Sept. 3, 2021, threw out the death sentence for Alfonso Rodriguez Jr convicted in the 2003 slaying of Dru Sjodin, a North Dakota college student. (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt File)

Rodriguez has been on death row at a federal prison for nearly two decades in the death of Dru Sjodin, a Minnesota woman who was abducted from a Grand Forks mall parking lot in November 2003.

Rodriguez, a sex offender, was arrested the following month.

Despite several massive searches, Sjodin’s body wasn’t found until the following April near Crookston, Minnesota.

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