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Published December 19, 2013, 04:00 PM

Rodriguez lawyers update judge on North Dakota death penalty appeal

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — A federal judge says it's too early to tell whether an appeal by a man sentenced to death for killing a University of North Dakota student can be decided without a hearing.

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — A federal judge says it's too early to tell whether an appeal by a man sentenced to death for killing a University of North Dakota student can be decided without a hearing.

Lawyers in the case of Alfonso Rodriguez Jr., of Crookston, Minn., appeared in a Fargo courtroom Thursday to update U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson on the habeas motion, considered the last step in the appeal process.

A jury in 2006 convicted Rodriguez, a convicted sex offender, of kidnapping and killing Dru Sjodin, of Pequot Lakes, Minn.

The government last month filed a 417-page answer to the appeal, which claims among other things that Rodriguez is mentally disabled and his trial lawyers did a poor job.

Prosecutors say Rodriguez's appeal has no basis and he should be executed.

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