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Status hearing cancelled in death penalty appeal

FARGO, N.D. (AP) -- A status hearing in a North Dakota death penalty case has been cancelled because of the government shutdown. Lawyers in the case of Alfonso Rodriguez Junior were scheduled to meet November 1st in Fargo to update progress of Rodriquez's habeas corpus motion, considered the last step in the appeal process.

Rodriguez is on death row at a federal prison in Indiana. A court document filed Friday shows that a status hearing will be scheduled after the government files its answer to the motion.

The deadline for prosecutors was recently extended from October 15th to December 15th because of the shutdown. Rodriguez was convicted in 2005 of kidnapping and killing 22-year-old University of North Dakota Dru Sjodin of Pequot Lakes, Minnesota.

Investigators say she was raped, beaten and stabbed.