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Shutdown Leads To Delay In North Dakota Death Penalty Appeal

Alfonso Rodriguez

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 Oct. 15 deadline to respond to Alfonso Rodriguez Jr., convicted in 2005 of raping and stabbing Dru Sjodin, of Pequot Lakes, Minn.

U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson on Thursday extended that to Dec. 15.

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.

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