Rodriguez sentenced to die for killing Dru Sjodin

  • Article by: CHUCK HAGA and PAM LOUWAGIE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 23, 2006 - 12:17 AM

Alfonso Rodriguez Jr. has been sentenced to die for kidnapping and killing Dru Sjodin.

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Dru Sjodin's parents, Linda Walker and Allan Sjodin, embraced as Linda cried after a press conference soon after a jury returned with a sentence of death for Alfonso Rodriguez Jr. In the background is Sid Walker, Linda's husband and Dru's stepfather.

Photo: Renee Jones Schneider, Star Tribune

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FARGO, N.D. - In the end, it was tough on everybody.

Jurors cried as their historic verdict was read. The defendant's mother sobbed.

The prosecutor and defense attorneys, too, struggled to control their emotions Friday after Alfonso Rodriguez Jr. was sentenced to death for kidnapping and killing Dru Sjodin in 2003.

But there was relief, as well as sadness, in the tears of Linda Walker, Dru's mother, and Allan Sjodin, her father.

"I felt all along, for Dru's sake, this needed to happen," Allan Sjodin said.

"It's sad to see a family that's hurting," Walker said of the Rodriguez family, and she acknowledged the difficulty some jurors must have had putting their names to a death sentence -- the first in North Dakota in nearly a century.

"It was the most gut-wrenching feeling I've ever had," said one juror, a man from Fargo who asked that he not be named.

"I've never made a decision that's been so emotional for me," he said from his home Friday night.

Said the juror: "It was a lot harder than I thought it would be when I went in."

At a news conference with U.S. Attorney Drew Wrigley, Walker seemed emotionally and physically drained.

"I don't know how to wrap myself around what's taken place in our lives," she said.

"I'm so truly thankful that Dru's voice was heard. And we hope it resounds around the world -- that we won't tolerate this violence against women, especially our children."

Of her own pain, "it's insurmountable," she said, her voice breaking. "I don't know how to put it into words.

"It's hard to go into public places and see other mothers with their daughters. I guess for every single day of my life, it will" be so.

Rodriguez, 53, convicted on Aug. 30 of kidnapping and killing the 22-year-old college student from Pequot Lakes, Minn., will remain in the Cass County jail in Fargo until a sentencing hearing on Jan. 5.

He showed no emotion as he entered the courtroom shortly before 11 a.m. and none when the verdict was read.

But his mother, Dolores Rodriguez, cried throughout the somber proceeding and sobbed loudly as the court clerk read the jury's decision that her son should be put to death.

She and two of Rodriguez's sisters left the courthouse without speaking to reporters.

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