Austin Sigg, the 17-year-old Colorado boy accused of killing Jessica Ridgeway, likely will be the first high-profile teenage defendant to test a new law designed to make it more difficult to charge juveniles as adults, reports the Denver Post. Jefferson County District Attorney Scott Storey anticipates charging Sigg, who will turn 18 on Jan. 17, as an adult. Sigg’s defense lawyers will likely move for a reverse-transfer hearing, said Kim Dvorchak, director of the Colorado Juvenile Defender Coalition.
This procedure, allowed under a law signed by the governor in April, would require the prosecution to make a case for why Sigg should not be tried in juvenile court. Supporters of the law that changed the longstanding “direct file” system that allowed DAs to decide who should be tried as an adult say it assures fair prosecution of youth offenders. Others say the process complicates cases and future proceedings. Mesa County District Attorney Pete Hautzinger said reverse-transfer hearings in high-profile cases could become mini-trials where case evidence would be made public, tainting the jury pool and possibly forcing a change of venue.