Rodriguez formally sentenced to die
Alfonso Rodriguez Jr. has been formally sentenced to die for the kidnapping and murder of Dru Sjodin. U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson imposed the sentence Thursday. Erickson also said he had rejected defense attorneys' request for a new trial ...
Alfonso Rodriguez Jr. has been formally sentenced to die for the kidnapping and murder of Dru Sjodin.
U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson imposed the sentence Thursday.
Erickson also said he had rejected defense attorneys' request for a new trial and would file the denial today or Monday.
More than a dozen of Sjodin's family and friends spoke at the sentencing hearing about Dru -- described as a smiling, outgoing and charismatic person -- and the impact her death had on them.
Rodriguez did not speak at the hearing.
Sjodin was a 22-year-old University of North Dakota student when she was kidnapped from a Grand Forks, N.D., mall in 2003. She was stabbed and her body left half-nude in a ravine near Crookston.
Sjodin's mother, Linda Walker, spoke of the weeks and months after her daughter's disappearance. She recalled packing Sjodin's belongings in her Grand Forks apartment, of the search for her daughter, and her thoughts while buying a burial plot and planning her daughter's funeral.
"Am I picking the right flowers? Shouldn't this be her wedding I'm planning?"
Walker also spoke of seeing her daughter's photo next to Rodriguez's photo in the media, "as though they were a couple."
During a three-phase trial last year, jurors found Rodriguez guilty and eligible for the death penalty before deciding Sept. 22 that the 53-year-old should receive the death sentence.
Defense attorney Richard Ney told Erickson on Thursday that he understood the judge had no choice but to impose the sentence.
He also said the sentence will not bring peace or healing to one family, and it will bring devastation to another.
"I know in my heart, this sentence does not reflect the heart of this community," Ney said. "This sentence reflects the fear of this community."
Erickson, in a statement before announcing the sentence, said the decision is the most difficult of his life.
"The people who will go to their death beds with this crime on their minds are legion," Erickson said.