Judge denies request to change venue in Sigg case

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The venue of the upcoming Austin Sigg trial has been confirmed to stay in Jefferson County. The decision came Sept. 23 during a motions hearing when District Court Chief Judge Stephen Munsinger ruled to deny the defense team’s request to change the venue.

The defense claimed that Sigg would not have a fair and impartial jury due to the massive amount of media attention the case has received. With the jury selection process in full swing, the defense team said after reading the initial jury questionnaires, some responses were problematic because of the people’s investment in the case.

“The community was invested in the disappearance of Jessica Ridgeway. People were dedicated to the memorial of Jessica Ridgeway,” said defense attorney Katherine Spengler. “That’s why this community is not the appropriate community to have the trial.”

But Munsinger disagreed. He said out of the 716 potential jurors, there should be no problem getting 44 people to serve on the jury and the panel. He said after reading the questionnaires he was actually surprised that many people said the extent of knowledge they had of the case did not surpass the description of the case on the questionnaires.

“I believe there is no showing that there won’t be a fair trial,” Munsinger said. “I’m pleased to say that we could have a fair trial.”

During the hearing, the defense team also requested the absence of purple clothing to be worn by the prosecution team, court staff and law enforcement. Munsinger agreed with the request and said obvious or intentional displays of the color purple, which was Ridgeway’s favorite color, worn by staff, law enforcement and the prosecution, would not be allowed.

This restriction does include the Ridgeway or Sigg family.

Opening statements are set to begin Oct. 3. If convicted, he faces life in prison with a possibility of parole after 40 years. He faces 17 charges, including murder and sexual assault. He is charged with abducting and murdering 10-year-old Jessica Ridgeway last October.