Alfonso Rodriguez Jr. Is fee in the kidnapping and also death of Dru Sjodin, a college student from phibìc Dakota who disappeared in November 2003. The goes on trial in July 2006.

You are watching: Does north dakota have the death penalty


For 35 year Frank Vyzrelek operated at the phibìc Dakota heritage Center, wherein he invested years researching violent crime in the state and the death penalty.

"North Dakota has had actually a long experience with resources punishment," claims Vyrelek. "There have been eight executions in the year from the 1880s approximately 1905."

Despite that, Vyzrelek states in 1915 north Dakota legislator repealed the fatality penalty.

*

"Except in the instance where a convicted murderer at the penitentiary killed a prison guard," states Vyrelek. "Then he would certainly be subject to funding punishment."

And that's the method North Dakota legislation stood for decades. In 1972 the U.S. Can be fried Court claimed the death penalty unconstitutional, yet four years later the court reversed that is decision. Vyzrelek states despite alters made in ~ the commonwealth level, phibìc Dakota lawmakers have actually been consistent; they protest the death penalty.

"Only once because that time during the legislative session of 1979, there was a proposal come enact a brand-new statue and also that to be beaten under pretty fast in the Legislature," states Vyrelek.

In bespeak to seek the death penalty in the case versus Alfonso Rodriguez Junior, officials reduce the state charges against him. Prosecutors relocated the situation to commonwealth court, since they believe Rodriguez crossed state lines while committing the crime.

*

Robert Blecker, a criminal legislation professor at the new York legislation school claims the federal prosecutor's activity is no that uncommon.

"My see is that federal law has actually too lot supplanted state law and that although I advocate the death penalty ft those the deserve it, it need to be state prosecution," claims Blecker. "If the people of a state important don't want the fatality penalty, then, uneven it yes, really is a commonwealth crime not one of these dual sovereignty crimes wherein the state measures in, ns don't think the feds should be do a point."

North Dakota is just one of twelve claims without the fatality penalty. Blecker claims federal authorities shouldn't disregard the state's long opposition to funding punishment.

"The federal government has a responsibility to listen to the human being of a state, so if the people of the state really are overwhelmingly abolitionist and also they don't desire the fatality penalty then why is the federal federal government intruding?" asks Blecker. "Especially due to the fact that crime is generally a state function to define, protect, prosecute and punish."

*

Attorney Richard Ney is representing Alfonso Rodriguez Jr. In his killing trial. Rodriguez is accused of kidnapping and also killing Dru Sjodin, 22, in November 2003.

There are numerous theories regarding why phibìc Dakota has opposed the fatality penalty. Chronicler Frank Vyzrelek claims one reason might be the state's country makeup.

"Most that the people here who space of Scandinavian or German-Russian origins and also are pretty gentle in terms of the concepts that they prospered up with," claims Vyrelek.

Another reason might be religion. Potential jurors for the trial will certainly come from east North Dakota where there are 85,000 Catholics. Bishop Samuel Aquila top the Fargo diocese and says the church establish the government has the best to take it a life, however Aquila claims those cases are rare and also that the church believes the life in prison is desired to the fatality penalty. Aquila states he hasn't met v Sjodin's family yet he realizes the family wants justice.

"I would certainly always shot to execute in that kind of instance is come really aid the human understand that vengeance, or the acquisition of an additional human life is no going come return the life of the other human nor is that going to lull a the majority of their suffering," states Aquila.

*

Linda pedestrian is the mom of Dru Sjodin, that was kidnapped and also killed in November 2003 in northwestern Minnesota. The suspect in that case goes on attempt in July.

People closest to the Rodriguez instance can't talk around it. Attorneys are under a gag order, which is now being challenged by Forum Communications agency of Fargo. Top top the advice that the U.S. Attorney's office Dru Sjodin's parents Linda Walker and Allan Sjodin have also declined interviews. However when prosecutors first announced lock would look for the fatality penalty they identified the family's intake in the decision.

Attorneys have spent the previous several months arguing motions in the case. However, many documents concerned the proceedings room sealed and also several that the hearings prior to Judge Ralph Erickson have been closed. Gary Annear invested 35 years in the U.S. Attorney's office in Fargo. Currently retired, Annear claims it's no surprising countless of the papers haven't to be made public.

"If this ingredient is exit in the newspaper or in the news media then because that jurors it's going come creep in and also they're going to type a prejudice," states Annear. "I think that's what the court is trying come prevent."

Defense attorneys have said their customer won't obtain a same trial in Fargo. Defense lawyers i was delegated a poll of potential jurors. The results confirmed 88 percent believe Alfonso Rodriguez small is guilty. The same poll revealed 53 percent of those surveyed think Rodriguez deserves the death penalty.

*

But movements to move the trial were denied. Former U.S. Lawyer Gary Annear says other high- profile situations have been tried in Fargo. That points come the trial for American Indian activist Leonard Peltier. Annear states that situation drew intense media attention, without affecting the outcome. Annear trust Rodriguez's attorneys have actually a difficult job, but they can obtain their customer a fair trial.

"They're walk to need to be cautious as far as jury choice is concerned. I don't understand whether they're walk to be able to personallyexamine every juror, each prospective juror or not," claims Annear. "But they get more challenges so as a an outcome you're going come find people who space fair and also impartial."

Security is expected to it is in tight as soon as the trial begins July 7th. Officials say the trial might take 6 to 12 weeks.


Gallery

Fullscreen SlidePrevious Slide
1 of 1
Alfonso Rodriguez Jr.
Alfonso Rodriguez Jr. Is charged in the kidnapping and death that Dru Sjodin, a college college student from north Dakota that disappeared in November 2003. He goes on attempt in July 2006.
MPR paper photo
Next Slide

Your assistance matters.

See more: Adam Mcginnis On Twitter: "Don'T See Dr J Dunks On Elvin Hayes


You do MPR News possible. Separation, personal, instance donations room behind the clarity in coverage from ours reporters across the state, story that connect us, and also conversations that administer perspectives. Aid ensure MPR stays a source that brings Minnesotans together.