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Judge rejects request to close hearing for man sentenced to death for killing UND student


FARGO, North Dakota — A judge has rejected a request by defense attorneys to close part of an evidentiary hearing for Alfonso Rodriguez Jr., the Crookston, Minnesota, man sentenced to death for kidnapping and killing University of North Dakota student Dru Sjodin (shuh-DEEN') in 2003.

Lawyers are scheduled to debate Rodriguez's appeal during a hearing scheduled next month in Fargo. Federal Judge Ralph Erickson said in denying the defense request that "secrecy is poor public policy in the absence of necessity."

It has been nearly four years since Rodriguez's attorneys filed the federal habeas corpus motion, considered the last step in the appeals process.

Sjodin was abducted from the parking lot of a Grand Forks shopping mall in November 2003. Authorities say she was raped, beaten and stabbed by Rodriguez, a convicted sex offender.

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