Deadline today for Rodriguez's last appeal
Attorneys for Alfonso Rodriguez Jr. are expected to file a habeas corpus motion by the end of the day Tuesday in an attempt to keep the Crookston man, who already has lost two direct appeals, from being executed for the kidnapping and murder of f...
Attorneys for Alfonso Rodriguez Jr. are expected to file a habeas corpus motion by the end of the day Tuesday in an attempt to keep the Crookston man, who already has lost two direct appeals, from being executed for the kidnapping and murder of former UND student Dru Sjodin.
Rodriguez, 58, remains on death row in federal prison in Terre Haute, Ind., which has the federal system's only lethal injection chamber.
A writ of habeas corpus, based on a tradition dating back centuries in English law, is a sort of last resort appeal for review of a death penalty case by a judge, after the direct reviews and appeals have been exhausted.
Lynn Jordheim, assistant U.S. attorney for North Dakota, said the year-long statute of limitations to file a habeas corpus motion ends Tuesday.
An employee in the federal court's clerk's office in Fargo recommended checking the docket Tuesday for such a filing.
Five years ago, a federal jury in Fargo found Rodriguez guilty of kidnapping and murdering Sjodin in November 2003, taking her from Grand Forks to a ravine near Crookston, where her body was found the next spring.
The same jury found, after a separate trial, that he should be put to death, rather than spend life in prison.
U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson pronounced that sentence on Rodriguez in February 2007.
Two years ago, a federal circuit court panel, months after it had heard Rodriguez' appeal in St. Paul, denied it. A year ago, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal of the circuit court's judgment.
The habeas corpus writ is a separate motion, apart from the evidence of a particular case, seeking a judge's review. It can include a wide variety of constitutional issues and, if the federal district court in Fargo denies it, the motion can be appealed to the Supreme Court.
Last month, Richard Ney of Wichita, Kans., and Robert Hoy, West Fargo, the attorneys who defended Rodriguez through his direct appeals all the way to the Supreme Court, were "terminated" officially as counsels, according to court documents.
In July 2010 Erickson already had appointed a new team of federal defenders for Rodriguez in the habeas corpus procedure.
Joseph Margulies, a Chicago law professor with wide experience in death penalty cases, heads the team, which also includes Andrew Mohring and Katherine Menendez, federal public defenders in Minneapolis.
Margulies and Mohring have not returned calls about the case.
Erickson and attorneys from both sides held a conference on Sept. 27, its nature and results sealed, according to court documents.
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