Jessica Ridgeway case: Sentencing hearing for confessed killer Austin Sigg continues Tuesday

WESTMINSTER, Colo. - A judge is expected to announce Tuesday the sentence for Austin Sigg, the teen who confessed to kidnapping and killing Jessica Ridgeway and trying to kidnap a jogger at Ketner Lake.

The two-day sentencing hearing began Monday. Sigg is facing more than 40 years in prison. While Sigg is 18 now, he was 17 at the time of his crimes, so he is not eligible for the death penalty.

Tuesday, Sigg's defense attorneys are expected to present their case for leniency. Monday, they gave a preview of their case mentioning that Sigg's mother sniffed paint and took a fall during her pregnancy. The lawyers also mentioned that Sigg had surgery at 2 months of age and again at age three and six.

Monday, prosecutors presented their case to get Sigg sentenced to the maximum possible. Family, friends, the Westminster Police chief, school officials and a psychologist testified.

-- Psychologist: Sigg not a psychopath --

Austin Sigg is not a psychopath, but has psychopathic characteristics, according to a psychologist who testified Monday.

"I don't believe he is a psychopath," Dr. Anna Salter testified Monday.

However, Salter said Sigg has some characteristics of a psychopath such as callousness and a lack of a conscience. Salter said Sigg is not an antisocial offender. She said from his interest in porn, his interviews and other information she obtained, she believes that Sigg has a deviant sexual arousal pattern.

"Records suggest he is sadistic and a necrophiliac --  you can tell from his pornography and behavior," Salter testified.

Salter has not met Sigg or interviewed anyone who knows him. She testified in court that her diagnosis was based on records provided by the prosecution.

The defense objected to Salter's testimony saying she is not a psychiatrist, not a medical doctor and not licensed to practice in Colorado. Defense attorneys challenged her opinion and qualifications, but the judge allowed the testimony. Salter's website said she evaluates sex offenders for civil commitment proceedings and other purposes.

-- Warning, the following contains testimony that many may find disturbing. --

Salter testified that Sigg dressed Jessica Ridgeway a certain way and cut her hair a certain way.

"The only logical explanation was sexual fantasy," Salter said.

Salter said Sigg showed extreme callousness toward Ridgeway in his treatment of her.

"His strangulation [of her], cutting her open, identifying each organ as he took it out, suggests extreme callousness," Salter said. "[He was] not hurriedly trying to get rid of it, he was actually noting the body parts as they came out."

"There's no logical motive for dismemberment other than sexual thrill," said Salter.

Salter testified that adolescents who commit crimes are normally impulsive, but that in Sigg's case, there was "considerable evidence of planning." Salter said Sigg took a forensic class, had ties with him to bind [Jessica's] hands and left her backpack and her remains in different places.

Salter said when Sigg was unsuccessful in kidnapping the adult female jogger, he decided he "needed someone with a smaller body type" [to attack].

"He learned from his mistakes and formulated a new plan," Salter said.

Salter also said Sigg wanted to make Jessica's body disappear because that's what "successful" serial killers do.

During Salter's testimony, the judge stopped questioning several times when it became too graphic, including when prosecutors talked about where Sigg left his personal cross inside Ridgeway's body.

When defense attorneys questioned Salter, the public learned that Sigg was born with a head deformity and intestine problem. He had surgery when he was 2 months old, 3 years old and 6 years old. Defense attorneys said Sigg's mother inhaled paint during her last trimester while pregnant with Sigg and that she took a fall during the pregnancy.

Defense attorneys said Sigg went through individual and group treatment in 2008-2009 for his interest in child pornography.

Also at the hearing on Monday, prosecutors said Sigg was incorrectly advised of the sentencing range on the charges in the Ketner Lake case. Sigg was then asked to reaffirm his guilty pleas and did so.

-- Kidnapping scared children, parents --

"This crime, beginning with the assault on the Ketner jogger, installed fear in our community," Westminster Police Chief Lee Birk testified Monday. "Children were afraid to go to school, afraid to enjoy the parks. Parents were afraid to let their kids go to school."

Birk said the investigation into Jessica Ridgeway's kidnapping was the biggest criminal case the city of Westminster has ever been involved in.

Over 1,000 public safety officials and thousands of citizen volunteers helped search 40 square miles of open ground. Divers and sonar were used to search 18 bodies of water before the girl's body was found.

"I’ve never seen my community hurt more and suffer more," Birk said. "Never having seen a case like this, that involved such a pure act of evil, pure callousness, if this were a death penalty, I would be urging you to impose that penalty, sir. I am certainly urging you, sir, to impose the maximum penalty possible."

School officials also spoke out in court Monday saying that 85,000 children and 12,000 employees across the Jefferson County School District were "deeply affected by the loss of Jessica."

"It's impossible for students to focus on teachers when police officers are outside searching for clues as to who kidnapped your friend," said Turina Zimmer, principal of Witt Elementary, where Jessica went to school.

Even Zimmer said she hasn't run a trail since October 2012.

-- Jogger speaks out --

The jogger attacked by Sigg was not in court Monday, but did answer some questions about the attack.

She said she has been afraid to run on the treadmill in her own basement since she was attacked in May 2012.

On May 28, 2012 the then 22-year-old woman was jogging at Ketner Lake in Westminster when a man grabbed her from behind and tried to put a chemical-laced rag over her mouth, police said.

The woman escaped and called 911, police said. Officers searched the area with a police dog, but were unable to find the attacker.

Just a little over four months later, Jessica Ridgeway was kidnapped and killed. Days later, police connected DNA found on the jogger with DNA found on Jessica Ridgeway.

Within days of police making the connection, Sigg confessed to killing Jessica and attacking the jogger.

The jogger, whose name is not being released publicly, said when she looks at her crawl space, she thinks about Jessica and how she could have had the same outcome.

"I often think of what would have happened," the jogger said.

"The lake I played at as a child is no longer safe and it will take much more time before I can go back there alone," the jogger said. "It never occurred to me, prior to the crime, that there were vicious, malicious murderers among us."

-- Jessica's mom and family speak out --

Jessica's mother, grandmothers, an aunt and other friends and family spoke out in court Monday.

While one grandmother asked the judge to lock up Austin Sigg forever, other family members talked about how much they miss their precious little girl, and they talked about their memories of Jessica.

Jessica's aunt, Gay Moore, said Jessica taught her how to use her computer and make videos.

Moore said Jessica had bunk beds and slept on the top so when Aunt Gay spent the night, Gay got the bottom bunk.

"But now there’s no one up there to say, 'Good night Aunt Gay,'" Moore said.

"She was my mini me, my giggle maker, she was my life," Rebecca Ridgeway said.

And while the family shared stories with the court, Jessica's mother refused and had the final say.

"I’m actually not going to say anything today,"Jessica's mother, Sarah Ridgeway, said. "I don’t think the defendant has the right to hear how he affected me, my family or who Jessica was."

"Once we walk out of this courtroom, we’ll not remember his name, we’ll only remember Jessica and the legacy she created and the lasting project in which she inspired," Sarah Ridgeway said.

Learn more about Jessica Ridgeway Park and Jessica Ridgeway, a little girl who loved purple and butterflies: http://ch7ne.ws/HUTDsM

-- What's next?

The sentencing hearing continues on Tuesday when the defense will present its case.

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