JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. - A Jefferson County judge on Friday ruled that prosecutors in the murder case against Austin Sigg can introduce evidence that Sigg was searching for and viewing violent child pornography for more than a year before Jessica Ridgeway was abducted and killed.
Sigg, who turned 18 in jail, is charged with 18 counts related to the 10-year-old girl's death last October and an attack on a jogger at Ketner Lake five months earlier.
He will be facing two trials in the separate cases, the judge also ruled Friday.
Sigg was arrested on Oct. 23, after his mother, Mindy Sigg, called and told dispatchers that her son had killed Jessica Ridgeway.
The Denver Post reported Friday that prosecutors said Sigg searched for and accessed websites about child sex abuse, child torture and child dismemberment for more than a year. The graphic websites were accessed from a computer at Sigg's home, prosecutors said. Interspersed between web visits to those kiddie porn sites were visits to the website for Arapahoe Community College, where Sigg attended school, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors and police accuse Sigg of killing and dismembering Jessica Ridgeway after kidnapping her as she walked to school on Oct. 5.
Defense attorneys called allegations that Sigg viewed imagery of violence against children "inflammatory," but prosecutors say the search terms and visits to the sites show Sigg's thought process, the newspaper reported.
"The defendant's graphic search terms are not admissions. They are not statements," defense attorney Katherine Spengler during the Friday afternoon pretrial hearing.
Defense attorneys said including the evidence would violate Sigg's right to a fair and impartial jury. They argued that the information is irrelevant and does not show motive.
District Court Judge Stephen Munsinger ruled that the evidence may be introduced as an offer of proof for a culpable mental state, according to the Post.
Earlier in the day, the judge said he will also allow a female jogger's identification of Sigg as the man who attacked her as evidence in Siggs' trial on the Ridgeway kidnapping and killing.
The jogger had identified Sigg from a six-man photo lineup the day after he was arrested but before his arrest photo was made public.
Sigg's defense attorneys had sought to block that evidence saying Sigg's photo stood out from the others because it had different lighting and he was only man wearing a striped shirt.
During Friday's morning hearing, the female jogger testified that she was able to pick Sigg's photo within 10 seconds of viewing the lineup at about 7:30 a.m. on Oct. 24. The jogger, whose name has not been made public, said she had not selected a suspect in a previous photo lineup.
Munsinger rejected the defense argument the photo lineup was tainted and allowed the jogger's identification of Sigg to be used as evidence at trial in the Ridgeway case.
Reflecting the emotion of recalling her attack, the jogger's voice cracked slightly as she testified for the first time about being jumped as she ran around Ketner Lake on Memorial Day Weekend in 2012. She was 22 years old at the time.
Sigg was not in the courtroom for the jogger's testimony because her ability to identify him was at issue.
The petite woman with short brown hair said she was walking and talking on her cellphone when she first spotted Sigg as he walked toward her on the lake path. She said she and the man acknowledged each other without speaking as they passed, then she put away her phone and began to jog.
As she ran around the lake, the woman said Sigg came toward her on the path, but after they passed, the man spun around and covered her face with a chemical-smelling rag. The woman said she somehow broke free and escaped.
During Thursday's preliminary hearing, defense attorneys sought to exclude any statements Sigg made to police during his arrest on the night of Oct. 23 and his videotaped interview with detectives early the next morning.
Police said Sigg made three separate confessions to kidnapping and murdering Ridgeway last October. The three times were: while talking with a 911 dispatcher on the night of his arrest, with a detective who soon arrived at the Sigg family home and during the recorded police interview the next morning.
Munsinger has not ruled on the motions to exclude Sigg's statements.
Sigg has pleaded not guilty.