Feds will ask appeals court to reinstate death penalty for Rodriguez
FARGO (KVRR) – Prosecutors will ask a federal appeals court to reverse a federal judge’s order that threw out the death penalty for Alfonso Rodriguez, the man convicted of kidnapping and killing Dru Sjodin.
The U.S. Attorney’s office in Fargo has filed a notice that says prosecutors intend to ask the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn Judge Ralph Erickson’s order and reinstate the death penalty for Rodriguez.
“The United States of America, by Nicholas W. Chase, United States Attorney for the District of North Dakota, and Melissa H. Burkland, Assistant United States Attorney, hereby gives notice that the Plaintiff/Respondent, United States of America, appeals to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit…” the notice reads.
In a 232-page ruling in September, 2021, Erickson ruled that misleading testimony from the coroner, the failure of lawyers to outline the possibility of an insanity defense and evidence of severe PTSD had violated Rodriguez’s constitutional rights. Erickson ordered a new sentencing phase to be conducted.
North Dakota Attorney General Drew Wrigley, a former U.S. Attorney who led the federal death penalty prosecution against Rodriguez, has said the decision to appeal Erickson’s orders would likely be decided at “the top levels of the Justice Department.”