Appeal filed in Rodriguez death penalty caseby Dan Gunderson, Minnesota Public Radio
Attorneys for Alfonso Rodriguez Junior have filed their appeal of his death penalty conviction. Rodriguez was sentenced to death for the 2003 abduction and murder of University of North Dakota student Dru Sjodin.
Moorhead, Minn. — The appeal to the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals raises 20 issues for appeal. They include the denial of a motion for change of venue, prosecutorial misconduct, errors in decisions by the judge and the unconstitutionality of the Federal Death Penalty Act.
Among other things, the appeal also challenges some expert testimony and information the jury was allowed to hear.
Defense attorney Richard Ney declined to comment on the appeal.
U.S. Attorney Drew Wrigley says there were no surprises in the 200-page appeal.
"The big part of what we'll be doing of course is to lend context," Wrigley says. "Context is critically important. When they take one remote comment out and stick it on a piece of paper and apply case law to it, it's not the same as applying the context of the full argument that was made."
Prosecutors have 21 days to respond to the appeal, but prosecutor Drew Wrigley says the government may need additional time to respond the the lengthy appeal. Wrigley says he's confident the government can offer a strong rebuttal to each of the points of appeal raised by the defense.
"This trial was presided over by a fair judge, and it was a fair trial. The jury was fairly selected and reached a just verdict," Wrigley says. "The bottom line is the United States is going to defend this death verdict to the very end."
It will likely be several months before judges on the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals hear oral arguments in the case. Alfonso Rodriguez Junior remains on death row in a federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana.
- All Things Considered, 04/22/2008, 5:56 p.m.