Austin Sigg, the 17-year-old suspect in the murder of 10-year-old Jessica Ridgeway, made his first court appearance on Thursday.
Jefferson County District Attorney Scott Storey said the juvenile delinquency hearing is the first step, and Sigg will be formally charged at 10 a.m. Oct. 30. He is on a no-bond hold. First Judicial District Judge Ann Meinster read Sigg his rights.
“Based on my experience Austin Sigg will be charged as an adult,” Storey said. “But due to his age he will not face the death penalty.”
Sigg remains in juvenile detention, but prosecutors said they plan to transfer the case to district court and eventually ask that Sigg be transferred to county jail. The defense team asked the judge to limit the amount of pre-trial publicity and requested a gag order. She did not rule on either requests.
Storey said it's a murky situation in terms of whether Sigg could face life in prison without parole because he is a juvenile. When asked if he's worked on a case like this one before, Storey said, “I've been doing this for 25 years, I've seen a lot.”
Family members and friends of Jessica Ridgeway were in the courtroom wearing purple, Ridgeway's favorite color. Sigg appeared calm during the hearing and glanced back more than once at the Ridgeway family.
Sigg was arrested Tuesday night for the murder of Ridgeway. It has not been confirmed by police whether he turned himself in although an Associated Press story reported his mother called police and then he turned himself in. During a press conference on Wednesday, Westminster Police Chief Lee Birk said after working non-stop on the case since her disappearance on Oct. 5, he believes a significant step was made in bringing justice to Ridgeway.
“I would like to thank the community for the thousands of tips they have provided us in this case,” he said. “Those tips have been instrumental in the case. And I would also like to thank the community for the tremendous public outpouring of support.”
Sigg attended Arapahoe Community College. Shaun Martin was in Psychology 101 with Sigg. He said on Oct. 24 Lakewood detectives interviewed the entire class asking who knew Sigg and how well. Martin said some students seemed to know him better than others because they had forensic and mortuary-science classes with Sigg.
“I didn't really know Sigg, but he seemed very smart when he spoke in class,” Martin said. “I only remember seeing him absent one time, and it was before the murder. Afterward there didn't seem to be any change in his demeanor.”
Martin said Sigg seemed like a confident person and he occasionally saw Sigg hanging out on campus with an informal group of “Magic: The Gathering” players. It's a fantasy card game with a cult following, similar to the “Dungeons and Dragons” phenomenon of years past.