Austin Sigg, the 18-year-old accused of murdering Jessica Ridgeway, appeared in court last week for two days of motions hearings.
The hearings on July 18-19 covered a variety of issues, one resulting in the severance of charges involving the murder of Jessica Ridgeway from an attempted kidnapping charge involving a woman jogger in May 2012, whom Sigg allegedly attacked.
Originally the judge ruled to try all charges in one case, but after lengthy testimony from the defense on July 19, District Court Chief Judge Stephen Munsinger ruled to have separate trials, one for the charges involving Ridgeway including the murder charge and sexual exploitation charge, and one for the Ketner Lake jogger charges.
The judge did not rule on which trial would happen first, or set a specific date on the attempted kidnapping Ketner Lake trial.
The trial concerning the murder of Ridgeway was set for Sept. 20.
The criminal counts for the Ridgeway case will not be allowed to be used during the Ketner Lake trial to allow Sigg to have a fair trial. But the prosecution in the Ridgeway case may use the Ketner Lake accusations in their case.
The judge also ruled that the prosecution can use introduce evidence that Sigg was using a computer to search and view child pornography as well as searching for other graphic information and images for over a year before Ridgeway’s murder.
The prosecution told the judge they had found search terms on the computer such as child rape, torture, murder and dismemberment.
Although the defense argued this evidence was irrelevant to the trial and was inflammatory, the judge ruled in favor of the prosecution.
“The evidence is relevant and relates to the case,” Munsinger said.
Earlier during the July 19 hearing, the judge denied a defensive motion that would have withheld the jogger’s identification of Sigg for the trial.
The jogger in the attempted kidnapping case, who was only referred to by her initials, V.N., testified that she had in fact picked Sigg’s photo out of a six-photo array. She said she wasn’t 100 percent the person in the photo was her attacked but she knew the photo had very similar characteristics to her attacker.
The defense argued that the Sigg’s photo in the lineup was suggestive because there was a different background light used in photo, he was the only person wearing stripes and he was only one out of two people not wearing black.
Munsinger disagreed and allowed the photo identification to be used in the trial.
For the first time, Sigg’s mother Mindy Sigg took the stand during the July 18 motions hearing. She was questioned by both the prosecution and the defense and spoke about the day her son Sigg confessed to killing Ridgeway.
She said her son wanted to surrender to police and “be punished for what he had done.”
Mindy Sigg also testified that she called police “to let someone know what my son had done” the evening of Oct. 23.
Defense attorneys are arguing that Sigg and his mother were not properly advised of his rights and are pushing to exclude statements from trial that Sigg made to detectives and officers immediately after his arrest.
Mindy testified that she told dispatch her son was only 17-years-old, but upon arrival offices didn’t realize he was under age and had to tell Sigg his rights a second time after gaining permission from his mother.
After the arrest, Sigg and Mindy were transported to the Westminster Police Department separately.
Mindy testified that she gave permission to detectives that they could interview Sigg alone, as long as he was okay with it, which he was. After being transported to police headquarters, Mindy testified that she did not see her son for the rest of the evening.
During the hearing Munsinger did not rule on the motions to exclude the statements.
Sigg is accused of kidnapping and killing Ridgeway in early October.
He is also accused of attempting to abduct a woman jogging around Ketner Lake in May 2012. If convicted, Sigg faces life in prison with a possibility of parole after 40 years. He faces 17 charges, including murder and sexual assault. Sigg’s next motions hearing is set for Aug. 7.