JEFFERSON COUNTY - Austin Sigg made his own decision, against the advice of his attorneys, to plead guilty Tuesday to all charges he faced in the kidnapping and murder of Jessica Ridgeway as well as the attempted kidnapping of a jogger at Ketner Lake.
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Austin Sigg was charged with 15 counts including first-degree murder, kidnapping and sexual assault. His sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 18 and 19.
"Today Mr. Sigg pled guilty to all charges. He has been held fully accountable for his criminal acts. There was no plea bargain. There was no "deal", said District Attorney Peter Weir, "No charges were dismissed as part of a plea bargain. However, three counts of felony murder merge into the count of first degree murder - after deliberation count. A person can only be convicted and sentenced to the murder of a person once."
Because Sigg was 17 at time of the crimes, first-degree murder would bring 40 years in jail before the possibility of parole. He can't get the death penalty because he was a minor at the time.
This plea came two days before the 18-year-old was set to stand trial and nearly a year after Jessica's disappearance set the community on edge. Investigators searched for over two weeks for Jessica's abductor before Sigg turned himself in.
Detectives say he confessed to killing Jessica but denied sexually assaulting her.
Sigg's father says he's thankful Jessica's family won't have to endure a trial.
"We are very thankful that the Ridgeway family will be spared the ordeal of a trial. We ask the community to continue to support the Ridgeway family and keep them in your thoughts and prayers," he said in a statement.
After Sigg's plea, the judge lifted the gag order in the case.
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