Defense: Texts led to fatal fight

Court to decide whether messages can be used as evidence in Sigler trial

Published: Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2013 1:15 a.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2013 8:07 a.m. CDT
Caption
Brian Sigler

DIXON – Defense attorneys for a Dixon man accused of murdering his wife say that the couple’s Jan. 12 confrontation occurred because of sexual text messages the man found on his wife’s cell phone.

Defense attorney James Mertes said that discovery sparked a fight between Brian Sigler, 35, and his wife, Yolanda, that led to her death.

Those text messages – sexual conversations that, the defense says, occurred between Yolanda Sigler and another man – have been sealed by the court. Whether they can be used as evidence was the subject of a hearing Monday in Lee County Court.

During the hearing, Brian Sigler sat next to his attorneys – his handcuffs removed – and watched as they argued that the text messages sent and received by his wife should be admitted as evidence in his upcoming trial.

“This is a case of a defendant actually walking in on an adulterous relationship,” Mertes said.

Court documents submitted by the defense cite those texts as qualification for a charge of second-degree murder. The defense argues that evidence of Sigler’s state of mind is absolutely necessary for a jury to decide whether this is a case of first- or second-degree murder.

Someone commits the offense of second-degree murder, the defense argues, if “at the time of the killing ... [the defendant] is acting under a sudden and intense passion resulting from serious provocation by the individual killed.”

Lee County State’s Attorney Anna Sacco-Miller cited a state law that says any statement made by a deceased witness can be used as evidence, only if it was made under oath – such as in a trial or other court proceeding – so that the statement might have been challenged under cross-examination.

“She’s not here to tell us that those were her [text messages],” Sacco-Miller said. “She’s not here to deny or admit, because she’s dead.

“There is no proof of reliability of those out-of-court statements.”

Judge Ron Jacobson will announce Jan. 15 whether he will allow the text messages as evidence.

Police say that Brian Sigler admitted killing his wife in their home before stabbing himself repeatedly with a knife. He was found bleeding in their upstairs bathroom after their son called 911.

He was being held on $2 million bond Monday at the Lee County Jail.

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