FARGO, N.D. - A sealed document in the case of slain University of North Dakota student Dru Sjodin was viewed by a reporter after it was mistakenly placed in a public file.
The document contained detailed, graphic information about the kidnapping and killing of Sjodin, Fargo radio station WDAY-AM reported Friday in a copyright story. Officials of Forum Communications Co., which owns WDAY radio and WDAY TV, said they would not release the information.
"We looked at the information as pretty sensitive," said WDAY-TV news director Jeff Nelson, who was involved in the decision on whether to broadcast the story. "The overall reason we didn't run it is because it's supposed to be a sealed document.
"It was a tough call," he said.
Alfonso Rodriguez Jr., 52, a convicted sex offender, is charged with kidnapping resulting in the death of Sjodin, 22, of Pequot Lakes. He has pleaded not guilty. His trial is scheduled for July, and prosecutors have said they will seek the death penalty if he is convicted.
The document in question was filed Monday, U.S. Attorney Drew Wrigley told The Associated Press. Only one reporter saw the file before the mistake was corrected and it was sealed from public view, he said.
Sealed documents will now be marked with a special note, Wrigley said.
"There's no finger pointing," Wrigley said. "In the future, we're going to make sure we're all on the same page."
Detailed information in the case could affect Rodriguez's right to a fair trial and make it more difficult to select a jury, Wrigley said.
"The proper forum for that information is during the trial," he said.
Defense attorney Robert Hoy did not return a phone message to the AP. He told WDAY mistakes can happen with such a large volume of paperwork.
"There's been a lot of documents that get filed in a case like this," Hoy said. "Some of them are intended to be public, some of them are not intended to be public."
U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson has been hearing arguments over the death penalty in the Rodriguez case. More motion hearings are scheduled for Dec. 14 and Feb. 3.
Sjodin disappeared in November 2003 from a mall in Grand Forks. Searchers found her body in April 2004, near Rodriguez's hometown of Crookston.
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