Austin Sigg sentenced to life in prison for death of Jessica Ridgeway in Colorado

The 18-year-old who pleaded guilty to kidnapping, killing and dismembering the body of 10-year-old Jessica Ridgeway was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison by a Colorado judge.

Austin Sigg was 17 at the time of the crimes, so he could not be sentenced to life without parole, which is the sentence Judge Stephen Munsinger said he wanted to impose. Sigg will be eligible for parole after 40 years for the murder charge, but Munsinger sentenced him to almost 100 additional years for the other charges against him, saying he expects Sigg to be confined to a cell for the rest of his natural life.

Ridgeway's family members have been in court wearing the little girl's favorite color, purple, and asked the judge Monday for the harshest possible sentence.

"This monster took away from me the light, at least, of my life," said Christine Ridgeway, Jessica's grandmother. "It shattered the core of my family."

Jessica Ridgeway's mother kept her comments brief, telling Sigg his name will quickly be forgotten, but people will continue to remember the "legacy that Jessica left behind."

Dr. Anna Salter, a psychologist who testified for the prosecution on Monday, labeled Sigg a sadist, called him callous and said he shows psychopathic characteristics.

"He certainly had no empathy for Jessica Ridgeway either during or after the offense. When he talked about dismembering her during the (police) interview, he was eating a snack at the time," Salter said.

Sigg also pleaded guilty to an attack on a female jogger in May 2012. Salter said that Sigg tried to capture the woman using homemade chloroform and that he went on to learn from that failed attempt, deciding to "go after a smaller body."

Jessica Ridgeway was kidnapped on October 5, 2012, as she walked to school in Westminster, Colorado.

Investigators found her dismembered body five days later. Salter said Sigg's act was calculated -- not impulsive -- and he tried to throw police off his trail. Salter said the teen put some of Ridgeway's belongings in her backpack and dumped it in one area while placing her torso in another location.

Sigg's mother is the one who turned her son into police. She tried getting Sigg help in 2008 after catching him looking at child pornography, according to Salter. Salter also testified about disturbing Internet searches found on Sigg's computer relating to rape, torture and murder.

Sigg's defense attorneys showed baby photos to the judge Tuesday and talked about Sigg as a son, brother, student and classmate.

According to the defense, Sigg's mother allegedly inhaled strong paint fumes two months before Sigg was born and fell down concrete steps six months before his birth. The defense also said Sigg was born with a deformity in his intestines and had to undergo several surgeries starting when he was 2 months old.

Teachers who worked with Sigg called him loving, compassionate and sweet, according to the defense. Sigg's attorneys additionally suggested he was bullied by classmates.

The chief of the Westminster Police Department, Lee Birk, told reporters after the sentencing that it was a bittersweet day.

"Certainly the judicial process has run its course and we had the best outcome we could hope for. But nothing we could do can bring back Jessica," said Birk, who called Sigg's crimes horrific, callous and depraved. "It was truly a reflection of pure evil and Austin Sigg deserves everything he got."

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