FARGO, ND (KXNET) — The United States is dropping its efforts to seek a death sentence against Alfonso Rodriguez, Jr., the Minnesota man convicted in the 2003 kidnapping and killing of University of North Dakota student Dru Sjodin.
Rodriguez was sentenced to death following his 2006 federal trial. In 2021, Rodriguez was ordered to be resentenced due to, “misleading testimony from a medical examiner and limitations on mental health evidence,” according to the judge in the case.
At that time, the U.S. Attorney General’s Office said it would still seek the death penalty. However, on Tuesday, the U.S. said it was withdrawing that effort in the case.
The withdrawal notice did not mention why the U.S. Attorney General’s Office had changed its mind.
“My thoughts today are with Dru Sjodin’s family, particularly her parents, Linda Walker and Allan Sjodin,” said North Dakota District U.S. Attorney Mac Schneider. “They are genuinely good people and loving parents who in the wake of an unimaginable loss have worked closely with our office for nearly twenty years. We continue to wish them the greatest measure of peace possible.”
“The directive to withdraw the death notice has changed how the United States Attorney’s Office will proceed with this case. What will not change is that Mr. Rodriguez will draw his last breath in a federal prison,” Schneider added.
North Dakota Attorney General Drew Wrigley, who led the team that prosecuted Rodriguez in the 2006 federal trial, says he is disappointed with the decision Tuesday.
“Rodriguez will remain in prison for life, but the gates of death row will be opened, returning him to general prison population where he will be allowed to construct a social existence and life for himself within the confines he found so comfortable across the decades he was previously imprisoned,” Wrigley said in a statement. “This result is a grave affront to justice and to the hearts and souls of all who loved and cared for Dru Sjodin. They have our prayers for God’s Peace as do all who held out the hope there would be justice for that brave woman.”