It's interesting to watch Alfonso Rodriguez Jr. figuratively squirm to save his life.
Following a 2006 trial, Rodriguez was found guilty of kidnapping and murder after he killed a UND student he confronted outside of the local shopping mall. Although the crime initially was committed in North Dakota, Rodriguez crossed state lines, making it a federal offense. North Dakota does not have the death penalty as an option for vicious killers like Rodriguez, but federal law allows for it.
He has been on death row since, but he is searching for any and all possible ways to avoid his determined fate. This month, the brutal killer's lawyers are hard at work, hoping to get the death sentence overturned based on a defense of what they say is Rodriguez's mental deficiency.
According to testimony, Rodriguez, of Crookston, routinely scored in the 70s on IQ tests throughout his school days. Those scores border on intellectual disability, say his lawyers, who also note that since the original trial, there have been changes to how intellectual disability is assessed. An IQ range of 90 to 110 is considered average.
It's not the first time Rodriguez has appealed for his life during his long stint on death row.
We have said it here before and we say it again today: Rodriguez deserves his sentence and we hope his latest appeal fails, reopening the path to his rightful fate.
By no means do we claim to be experts in intellectual disability and its effect on determining eligibility for a death sentence. Yet it's important to note that as defense lawyers contend Rodriguez is intellectually deficient, U.S. Attorney Keith Reisenauer claims Rodriguez has discussed reading many books, understanding those books' story lines and even discussing the books' authors. Reisenauer also notes that Rodriguez obtained a high school equivalency certificate while incarcerated.
Hopefully, Reisenauer will be successful in this case. Rodriguez should pay the price for his crime because, right or wrong, the death penalty exists and is a legal means of punishment according to federal law. Also, the death penalty is warranted due to the wanton details associated with the death of young Dru Sjodin in 2003.
We subscribe to the theory that all murderers are mentally ill. We also subscribe to the theory that nearly all death-row inhabitants would naturally much rather not die for their crimes, and therefore will waste exorbitant time and taxpayer dollars exhausting every avenue before they, too, meet their own deserved end. In 2015, Forum News Service reported the cost of incarcerating and defending Rodriguez already had cost $1.5 million.
Certain crimes deserve death. The crimes committed by Rodriguez were heinous and extraordinary, and he was properly and legally sentenced to death more than a decade ago.
He showed no remorse or emotion during his trial. Instead of spending the subsequent years making amends for the tragedy he alone created, he instead has spent his time working the appeals process to spare his own life-a luxury he refused to afford his victim.
Hopefully, his latest appeal will be unsuccessful and closure can finally come in this sad case.
-- Grand Forks Herald