The mother of slain University of North Dakota student Dru Sjodin says she was prepared to let the killer escape the death penalty if he led authorities to the body.
Linda Walker said she, her husband, Sid, and Dru's father, Allan Sjodin, asked U.S. Attorney Drew Wrigley in December 2003 to make an offer to Alfonso Rodriguez Jr.: no death penalty if he helped in the search.
"I was willing to take the bargain in exchange to find my loved one," said Walker, who along with Wrigley talked about the case Friday to University of North Dakota law students.
Wrigley declined the request. He said he wanted to keep the death penalty as an option, and let the defense come to him seeking a deal.
Sjodin, 22, of Pequot Lakes, Minn., disappeared in November 2003 from a Grand Forks mall parking lot. Her body was found in April 2004 in a ravine near Crookston, Minn., where Rodriguez lived. Rodriguez, a convicted rapist, was arrested Dec. 1, 2003. He was convicted in Sjodin's death and sentenced to die in September 2006.
Rodriguez, 55, is on death row. Defense attorneys filed a notice of appeal in February 2007, and have until April 7 to appeal the sentence handed down in the first death penalty case in North Dakota in nearly a century.
Rodriguez was tried in federal court because the case crossed state lines. Wrigley said he called a grand jury just weeks after Sjodin disappeared and met with Rodriguez in the Grand Forks County jail in February 2004, long before it officially was a federal death penalty case.
Wrigley said the willingness of Rodriguez and his attorney to meet with a federal prosecutor signaled to him that Rodriguez had killed Sjodin and that her body was in Minnesota, not North Dakota.
Information from: Grand Forks Herald, http://www.grandforksherald.com