A Jefferson County judged ruled Tuesday to transfer Austin Sigg from a juvenile facility to the Jefferson County Detentions Facility. The decision came after nearly two hours of testimony and was made effective immediately.
Sigg, 17, is charged with murdering 10-year-old Jessica Ridgeway of Westminster.
Alicia Calderon from the Attorney General’s Office filed the petition for the transfer on behalf of the Department of Youth Corrections. She told 1st Judicial District Chief Judge Stephen Munsinger it would be more appropriate to house Sigg in the Special Housing Unit of the Jefferson County Detention Facility because of the opportunities available to him in the adult facility. Sigg was previously housed at Mount View Youth Services Center in Denver.
“There are more educational and recreational opportunities for Mr. Sigg in the adult facility that will benefit him,” she said. “Plus, Mr. Sigg will be turning 18 on Jan. 17 next year, and we would be asking to transfer him then anyways.”
During his time at Mount View, Sigg was held in isolation under constant supervision. Dave Maynard, facilities director for the Department of Youth Corrections, testified that Sigg was never let out in the general population of the other juveniles in the facility in order to keep both Sigg and the other juveniles safe and secure.
He said the decision to keep Sigg in isolation and under observation was an internal decision, not court ordered. He said the youth facility is not set up for long-term isolation cases, with most juveniles only spending a few hours at a time in isolation as a “cooling down period.” He said Sigg did not have access to the recreation services on a regular basis because of his isolation and was not receiving any educational services.
“Our educational services are provided by Jefferson County Public Schools, and they are not legally required to provide educational services to detained youth who have obtained their GED, which is what Mr. Sigg has done,” Maynard said.
Sigg’s defense team argued that during the time that Sigg was at Mount View he was never disruptive, disrespectful or caused any problems for the staff. Melanie Lemuz, a security officer at Mount View, testified that she had developed a good rapport with Sigg, meeting with him almost every day of the week. She said during his time at Mount View, he had no behavior problems and was respectful toward the staff.
Now that Sigg will be housed in the Special Housing Unit, he will have access to recreation, educational and church services. Capt. Gary Gittins with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department testified that the housing unit has an indoor and outdoor recreation yard and a library that Sigg can utilize. He said Sigg will also have access to a chaplain or can request to meet with his own personal preacher.
“Mr. Sigg will be assigned a counselor and we also have a psychologist and psychiatrist available if needed,” Gittins said.
Also during the hearing, the defense team waived Sigg’s right for a reverse transfer hearing, which would have challenged the prosecution’s decision to try him as an adult rather than a juvenile. As an adult, Sigg could face life in prison with parole after 40 years. He is charged with four counts of first-degree murder, two kidnapping charges, one count of sexual assault on a child and a robbery charge also connected to the Ridgeway murder. He faces one count of criminal attempt of sexual assault and one count of criminal attempt of kidnapping connected to the attempted abduction of a woman running around Ketner Lake in Westminster.
Ridgeway disappeared on Oct. 5 while walking to Chelsea Park in Westminster to meet up with friends before walking to school. Her body was found days later in the Pattridge Park Open Space area in Arvada. Sigg’s mother made the call to police that led to his arrest.
A status conference will be 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 12, followed by the preliminary hearing at 8:30 a.m. on Feb. 22.