Full Interview: Former Rodriguez Juror Speaks Out
Shock and confusion. That's how Luke Lillehaugen describes what he felt when heard the judge overturned the federal death penalty sentence for Alfonso Rodriguez Jr.
One of the 12-person jury who convicted and sentenced sex offender Alfonso Rodriguez Jr. to death back in 2006 is speaking out.
Luke Lillehaugen served on the jury through the entirety of the trial, which stretched on through much of the summer of 2006, three years after UND student Dru Sjodin disappeared from a Grand Forks Mall parking lot.
Rodriguez was arrested weeks after the 22-year-old Sjodin’s disappearance and charged in her kidnapping.
Her body remained unrecovered for more than five months.
Searchers finally found it the following spring in a field a short drive away from Rodriguez’s Crookston home.
Lillehaugen remembers then U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson, who presided over the trial, meeting with Lillehaugen and his fellow jurors in the wake of their decision to sentence Rodriguez to death for Sjodin’s kidnap and murder.
Years later, hearing of Erickson’s order overturning the sentence, Lillehaugen says he’s shocked and confused by it.
KVRR’s Emily Welker covered that trial and has kept in touch with many of its key participants, including Lillehaugen, over the years.
She spoke with him over Facetime from his home in northeastern North Dakota.