Judge files written order denying new trial for Rodriguez
Fargo, N.D. — (AP) - A judge in the case of a slain college student from Minnesota says closing arguments by prosecutors did not jeopardize Alfonso Rodriguez Jr.'s right to a fair trial.
U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson ruled against Rodriguez's motion for a new trial during last week's sentencing hearing, when Rodriguez was formally sentenced to death. The judge filed a 111-page written order on Monday.
"The court has reviewed all of the issues raised by the defendant," Erickson wrote. "The court finds no error that would warrant a new trial."
A federal jury convicted Rodriguez, 53, a convicted sex offender, of kidnapping and killing Dru Sjodin, a University of North Dakota student from Pequot Lakes, Minn. The same jury voted to sentence Rodriguez to death.
Defense attorneys listed 30 complaints in their motion for a new trial, including prosecutorial misconduct during closing arguments in the guilt and sentencing phases.
At one point, U.S. Attorney Drew Wrigley said a defense scenario was nothing more than a "lawyerly verbal cartoon."
Rodriguez's attorney has indicated he will make further appeals, which will most likely delay an execution for several years.
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