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New trial requested for Minn. man on death row for 2003 kidnap, murder

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Alfonso Rodriguez Jr.
Alfonso Rodriguez Jr. has been convicted of the kidnapping and death of Dru Sjodin, a college student from North Dakota who had disappeared in November 2003.
MPR file photo

A request for a new trial for a Minnesota man on death row had its first hearing today in Fargo, N.D.

Alfonso Rodriguez was convicted in 2006 for kidnapping and killing college student Dru Sjodin in 2003.

Defense attorneys in October 2011 requested a new trial. They allege Rodriguez was not adequately represented during his trial. They also allege Ramsey County medical examiner Michael McGee provided false testimony at the trial.

Federal Judge Ralph Erickson gave federal prosecutors until July 2, 2012 to respond. The judge said he is departing from normal timelines to give adequate time to address what he called "significant issues never raised before."

In court, defense attorney Joseph Marguiles called the case "extremely complex." Marguiles declined to comment after the hearing.

It will likely be a year or more before a judge decides if Rodriguez will get a new trial, but Sjodin's mother, Linda Walker said it is difficult to think there could be another trial.

"I had a difficult time making the drive back up here once again and realizing that we have new things to face again," she said.