Lawyer says Rodriguez deserves new trial
A lawyer representing the man convicted in the 2003 kidnapping and death of Dru Sjodin told a judge this morning his client deserves a new trial. In a hearing before U.S.
A lawyer representing the man convicted in the 2003 kidnapping and death of Dru Sjodin told a judge this morning his client deserves a new trial.
In a hearing before U.S. District Court Judge Ralph Erickson, Richard Ney said prosecutors improperly attacked the credibility of defense lawyers during last summer's trial of Alfonso Rodriguez Jr.
Ney also said the government repeatedly misstated the law to jurors and that the defense was wrongly prevented from telling the jury that death was not a required penalty.
In addition, Ney said prosecutors wrongly appealed to jurors' sympathy when they stated during closing arguments, "She (Sjodin) is right here and all of us today can feel her strength."
U.S. Attorney Drew Wrigley said government lawyers were within their rights to say what they did during the trial, which resulted in a guilty verdict and a finding by the jury that Rodriguez should be executed.
"We didn't misstate the law as we went along," Wrigley said, adding that jurors reached proper conclusions based on instructions from the court. "These jurors were not dunces," he said.
Wrigley said he understood the rules forbid prosecutors from promoting empathy in the place of reason and he described the comments Ney objected to as "rhetorical flourishes."
On the issue of whether the jury knew death was not a required penalty, Wrigley said the defense made that point clear during the trial. "It's right there in the transcript," he said.
The purpose of today's hearing was to allow oral arguments on 30 legal issues raised by the defense, many of which have already been ruled on by Erickson, who said he will take today's arguments under advisement before issuing a written ruling.
That ruling is expected to come before or on Feb. 8, the day Rodriguez is sheduled to be sentenced, Erickson said.