Jury selection process continues in Austin Sigg trial

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Austin Sigg and his two defense attorneys appear at a motions hearing on March 12, 2013. (Sketch: Jeff Kandyba)

Austin Sigg and his two defense attorneys appear at a motions hearing on March 12, 2013. (Sketch: Jeff Kandyba)

GOLDEN, Colo. — Potential jurors were called to the Jefferson County Courthouse for a second time on Tuesday, as the jury selection process continued ahead of the scheduled Oct. 3 trial for Austin Sigg, the teen accused of kidnapping and murdering Westminster 10-year-old Jessica Ridgeway.

Hundreds showed up for the first day of jury selection on Sept. 20. They filled out a questionnaire before returning this week for the next step in the selection process. Twelve jurors will ultimately be selected.

Sigg’s defense attorneys had previously asked for a change of venue in the case, citing studies that suggested due to unprecedented coverage of Ridgeway’s murder, Sigg was more recognizable to Jefferson County residents than Colorado’s two U.S. Senators.

The judge declined to grant the defense’s request, thus setting in motion the jury selection process for the Oct. 3 trial.

Sigg, now 18 and being tried as an adult, was 17 years old at the time of his alleged crimes, and faces 18 counts in all. Sigg was taken into custody on Oct. 24, two weeks after portions of Ridgeway’s remains were found in a Jefferson County open space.

Jefferson County Detective Michael Lynch testified that Sigg’s mother, Mindy Sigg, called Westminster police, saying her son had confessed to the kidnapping and murder of Ridgeway. Sigg has since plead not guilty to the charges brought against him in connection with Ridgeway’s kidnapping and murder, as well as another attack on a female jogger at Ketner Lake in May 2012.

Jefferson County Deputy District Attorney Hal Sargent said he he believes the defense is prepping a mental trauma-related defense, citing the defense’s introduction of Dr. Mari Banich, a University of Colorado-Boulder psychologist, as an expert witness in neuroscience.

Banich testified during a pretrial hearing that adolescents with lesser-developed frontal lobes have a more difficult time putting together and executing a plan than adults.

Sargent does not believe Sigg’s attorneys will attempt to build an insanity defense. Instead, he believes Sigg’s lawyers will argue that their client was not able to appropriately perceive his actions as criminal.

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