D.A. asks judge for public access to hearing for Jessica Ridgeway murder suspect
A District Attorney has asked a judge to reconsider his decision to deny media and public access to the preliminary hearing for Austin Sigg, the 17-year-old charged with the sexual assault and murder of Jessica Ridgeway.
In a hearing earlier this month, and without receiving any evidence on the issue, Judge Stephen Munsinger determined that the preliminary hearing will be closed to the public. Munsinger closed the hearing on his own without a motion from either the prosecution or the defense, which is unusual.
The preliminary hearing is scheduled for February 22 during which prosecutors will attempt to show that there is sufficient evidence to try Sigg on the murder and sexual assault charges.
Jefferson County District Attorney Scott Storey wrote in his motion “[t]he people believe the public has a right to know how the investigation and prosecution of (Sigg) is proceeding, especially in light of the public resources which have been dedicated to this murder.”
According to Storey, court hearings can only be closed in “extraordinary circumstances” and he doesn’t believe this burden has been met.
Munsinger’s decision raises considerable First Amendment issues implicating the public’s right to have access to court hearings. Several media organizations have already contested the judge’s decision.
Sigg is charged with the heinous murder, sexual assault, and dismemberment of 11-year-old Jessica Ridgeway as well as the attempted murder and sexual assault of a 23-year-old jogger in an unrelated incident. Sigg reportedly confessed to the murder after his mother made him turn himself in.
Ryan Kerns, Esq., Wild About Trial
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