FARGO - Attorneys for Alfonso Rodriguez Jr. have filed papers in U.S. District Court here asking that his conviction and death sentence be set aside, claiming jurors at his trial heard false testimony.
Rodriguez, 65, was sentenced to death for the 2003 kidnapping and murder of Dru Sjodin, a 22-year-old University of North Dakota student. Prosecutors at his 2006 trial told jurors that Sjodin was raped and her throat was slashed at least twice.
However, a defense brief recently filed with the court claims that evidence now presented by the defense "conclusively proves that Dru Sjodin did not die in the manner alleged by the government at trial" and that there was no rape.
Instead, the papers state Sjodin most likely died of asphyxiation after a struggle and attempted rape in Rodriguez's car.
The filing states the conviction and sentence should be overturned because prosecutors knew or should have known that Ramsey County (Minn.) Medical Examiner Dr. Michael McGee testified falsely about the presence of semen on autopsy swabs.
The prosecution has yet to file a response to the defense filing.