The brutal murder of a little girl shocked the state and rattled the community of Westminster last year.
Months later, the teen accused of abducting and killing 10-year-old Jessica Ridgeway is preparing to stand trial for her murder.
Friday, a judge ruled that evidence allegedly implicating that 18-year-old Austin Sigg was looking at graphic websites involving children will be admissible in court. The prosecution alleges that Sigg searched websites on child pornography, torture and dismemberment for a year before Jessica's death.
Sigg's mother cried at the stand Thursday during a pre-trial hearing as she detailed the hours before she called police after her son allegedly confessed to the murder.
Mindy Sigg also testified that she waived her rights to be in the interrogation room when her son was interviewed by police, with the understanding that Austin would be asked if he wanted a parent present.
The matter of whether Mindy and Austin were properly informed of their rights was a point of contention for the defense Thursday, who spent much of the hearing discussing the issue. Austin was 17 at the time of Jessica's death, making him a minor.
According to a detective's testimony, Austin said he didn't need his mother there during the interrogation. The detective also told the judge that Austin's mother waited at least an hour and a half before turning him in, giving mother and son plenty of time to talk in the interim. The defense is arguing that Austin wasn't given an appropriate amount of time to talk to his mother privately before being questioned.
A legal analyst for sister station KCNC explained why the defense was pressing the issue.
“If there was evidence that came about because of an involuntary confession then that can have an effect on if other evidence can be introduced in the trial or not,” Karen Steinhauser said. “It’s this concept that we call the fruit of the poisonous tree. So basically we’re looking at was evidence obtained because of an illegal confession and if so, does that evidence have to be excluded as well.”
For another mother in the courtroom, testimony became too much to bear when details of her daughter's final moments were presented to the court.
Jessica's mother sobbed and took in gulps of air as she was told that her daughter asked if she'd see her mother again before she was strangled.
Jessica was on her way to school in October 2012 when she was kidnapped. Her mutilated body was found a week later, left on the side of the road near a Denver-area open space.
Austin has pleaded not guilty to her murder.
More testimony is expected Friday.
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