GOLDEN, Colo. - Prosecutors said Wednesday they have filed an additional sexual assault charge against a teen accused of kidnapping and killing a 10-year-old Colorado girl.
The additional charge and a sentence enhancing charge of a crime of violence alleges that Austin Sigg, 17, used physical force and threats to sexually assault 10-year-old Jessica Ridgeway. Prosecutors also tweaked some language and corrected spelling errors in charges previously filed in Jessica's disappearance and slaying Oct. 5. Jessica was abducted as she walked to school in the Denver suburb of Westminster.
Sigg is also accused of attacking a 22-year-old woman in Jessica's neighborhood in May. She escaped.
Also during a hearing Wednesday, District Court Chief Judge Stephen Munsinger said he would bar the public and the media from a preliminary hearing for Sigg, saying he wanted to avoid influencing any potential jurors if Sigg's case goes to trial. Sigg's public defender, Mitchell Ahnstedt, argued for closing the Feb. 22 hearing because of "massive and pervasive" media coverage of the case.
Prosecutor Hal Sargent objected, arguing that juries in Jefferson County have fairly tried a number of high profile cases.
"I don't think having it (a preliminary hearing) in public will impact having a fair trial," Sargent argued.
Preliminary hearings are where prosecutors present evidence against a suspect, sometimes publicly revealing previously undisclosed information. A judge decides whether to hold a trial or release the suspect.
Police arrested Sigg on Oct. 23. His mother told The Associated Press she called police and her son turned himself in.
Sargent, the prosecutor, said during the hearing that Sigg had not been a suspect prior to his arrest despite hundreds of police scouring the neighborhood and collecting cheek swabs for DNA from potential suspects as part of the search for Jessica and subsequent criminal investigation.