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Shutdown leads to delay in ND death penalty appeal

Alfonso Rodriguez Jr.
Alfonso Rodriguez Jr.

FARGO, N.D. (AP) -- Prosecutors handling the death penalty appeal by a man convicted of killing a University of North Dakota student will have more time to respond because of the government shutdown. The government originally had an October 15th deadline to respond to Alfonso Rodriguez Junior, convicted in 2005 of raping and stabbing Dru Sjodin of Pequot Lakes, Minnesota. U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson on Thursday extended that to December 15th. Defense attorneys in October 2011 filed a 298-page appeal that claims, among other things, that Rodriguez is mentally disabled and his lawyers did a poor job of defending him. Prosecutors say attorneys and others in the U.S. attorney's office have been hampered by the shutdown and support staff has not been working. Rodriquez's attorneys did not object to the extension.