GOLDEN, Colo. (AP) – A 17-year-old boy charged with kidnapping and killing a 10-year-old Colorado girl and attacking a runner will be prosecuted as an adult and also moved to an adult jail cell, a judge said Tuesday.
Austin Sigg was charged as an adult last month, including a murder charge in the death of Jessica Ridgeway, who disappeared Oct. 5 as she was walking to school in the west Denver suburb of Westminster. His lawyers had the option of asking to move the case to juvenile court instead, but Judge Stephen Munsinger said that the defense had waived its right to do that.
If convicted as an adult, Sigg faces up to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 40 years. A conviction in juvenile court also could have brought a stiff sentence. He faced a maximum of seven years there on each count, which could have put him in prison for decades if he were ordered to serve his sentences consecutively.
Defense attorneys have not said publicly why they did not seek to move the case to juvenile court. They declined to comment to the media, citing the judge’s gag order.
During Tuesday’s hearing, Munsinger also agreed to move Sigg from a juvenile detention facility to an adult jail at the request of state’s juvenile justice system officials. They said Sigg is being held in an isolation cell that’s not meant for long-term stays and requires full-time observation because the cell isn’t monitored by video. The officials said he hasn’t caused any problems, is respectful and spends most of his days playing Sudoku.
“I would describe him as very mature and very intelligent,” said Dave Maynard, who oversees six juvenile detention centers in the Denver area, including Sigg’s.
Sigg, also from Westminster, turns 18 in January, and Munsinger said he would have been moved to adult jail after that anyway.
His lawyers opposed the transfer.
“We very much oppose moving this child to an adult jail,” defense lawyer Katherine Spengler said.
Sigg attended the hearing dressed in a green uniform jumpsuit and was shackled at his wrists and ankles. He had some whispered conversations with his lawyers, occasionally nodding.
Security was tight. Spectators were screened twice, and 10 deputies stood guard inside the courtroom.
Sigg also is accused of attacking a 22-year-old runner, who escaped, in May.
Sigg is charged with four counts of murder, two counts of kidnapping, and one count each of sexual assault on a child and robbery in Jessica’s abduction and slaying. He’s charged with attempted murder, attempted sexual assault and attempted second-degree kidnapping in the attack on the runner. He’s also charged with six counts of crime of violence.
Prosecutors said he confessed to kidnapping and killing Jessica and attacking the jogger. It’s not clear if he has made any comment on the charge of sexually assaulting the girl.
In charging documents, prosecutors said Sigg acted alone in kidnapping, robbing and sexually assaulting Jessica. The robbery charge involved the girl’s backpack and water bottle, which were found in another suburb three days after she disappeared.
The 22-year-old woman said she was running in a Westminster park when a man grabbed her from behind and placed a rag with a chemical smell over her mouth. Investigators have not said whether the rag was soaked with a chemical meant to subdue her.
Police arrested Sigg on Oct. 23. His mother told The Associated Press she called police and her son turned himself in.
Sigg’s next court appearance will be a motions hearing scheduled for Dec. 12. A preliminary hearing, where the judge will decide if the evidence is sufficient evidence to go to trial, is scheduled for Feb. 22.
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