Slain girl’s mother says killer’s name will be forgotten
GOLDEN, Colo. (AP) — The mother of a 10-year-old Colorado girl whose death and dismemberment terrified a community said Monday the killer doesn’t deserve to know how the girl’s death affected her, and his name soon will be forgotten.
Sarah Ridgeway made her brief comments during a two-day sentencing hearing for 18-year-old Austin Sigg, who has pleaded guilty to kidnapping and killing Jessica Ridgeway.
Jessica was walking to school Oct. 5, 2012, when she was abducted in the suburbs west of Denver. Her death galvanized and terrified a community that spent days searching for her.
“I don’t think that the defendant has a right to hear how he’s affected me,” Sarah Ridgeway said in court. “… Once we walk out of this courtroom, we will no longer remember his name, only the legacy Jessica left behind.”
Sigg faces a possible life term when he’s sentenced Tuesday. He can’t be executed because he was 17 at the time of Jessica’s death.
Monday’s hearing was at times emotional and included a slideshow of Jessica set to music. The fifth-grader was a member of a peewee cheerleading squad who was looking forward to being a zombie lifeguard for Halloween.
During the slideshow, Sigg’s attorney comforted him by rubbing his back. Sigg wiped away tears with a tissue before being let out of court.
Earlier in the day, a psychologist hired by prosecutors told the judge that Sigg was “sadistic” and that he planned his attack.
“He certainly had no empathy for Jessica Ridgeway,” said Anna Salter of Madison, Wis., who studies sex offenders. She reviewed police interviews with Sigg but didn’t speak to him herself. She cited gruesome interviews from police interviews.
Salter also said Sigg did Internet searches on torture, rape and child pornography.
Sigg’s attorneys countered that his mother inhaled paint while pregnant with him, and that trauma he suffered before and during his birth left him with head and intestine deformities.
Defense lawyers repeatedly objected to Salter’s testimony, calling it “guesswork.” Defense attorney Katherine Spengler said Salter was unaware of some elements of Sigg’s background.
Salter said she was under the understanding that Sigg’s birth was uneventful. She also rejected Spengler’s suggestion that bullying played a role in the crime.
Sigg, dressed in a blue checkered shirt and khaki pants, sat with his back to the gallery during Salter’s testimony. He was led into the courtroom in handcuffs, but the cuffs were removed before the hearing started.
Five days after Jessica’s abduction, human remains identified as hers were found in a park. More of her remains were later found in a crawl space at the home of Sigg’s mother, where he lived.
After Jessica disappeared, police guarded crosswalks and photographed cars in the area. Residents organized search parties, and parents throughout the region escorted their children to and from school.
A resident contacted authorities Oct. 19, 2012, to alert them to Sigg because he reportedly had a fascination with death. FBI agents took a DNA sample from the teen. Days later, Sigg’s mother called 911 saying her son wanted to confess.
Investigators said Sigg told them he used his hands to kill the girl before he dismembered her body in a bathtub.
“I can’t imagine the damage that’s been done to his mother,” said Angie Moss, Jessica’s grandmother, while Sigg’s mother cried in court.
Sigg could be eligible for parole after serving 40 years in prison on the first-degree murder charge. But prosecutors want District Judge Stephen Munsinger to impose consecutive sentences on some of the other charges involving Jessica so that Sigg spends the rest of his life in prison.
Sigg also acknowledged attacking a 22-year-old jogger at suburban park in May 2012. In that case, investigators said he used homemade chloroform to try to subdue the woman, who escaped.
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