DIXON – A Lee County judge on Tuesday barred certain text messages from being presented during the murder trial of a Dixon man.
Brian Sigler’s defense attorneys, James Mertes and James Fagerman, had previously submitted the text messages – sexual conversations that, the defense says, occurred between Sigler’s wife and another man – saying that the couple’s January 2013 confrontation that led to her death was sparked by the messages Sigler, 35, found on his wife’s phone.
Sigler’s wife, Yolanda, was 35 at the time of her death.
Judge Ron Jacobson said that although the text messages’ effect on the defendant’s state of mind could matter eventually, he would for now deny the defense’s motion to admit them.
The denial, Jacobson said, could be changed if the text messages ended up being pertinent to trial proceedings, but that would depend on whether, for example, the state was able to produce evidence that Sigler had extended prior knowledge of infidelity.
If the state couldn’t provide such evidence, the text messages then might be admitted, and their alleged discovery could then show a greater effect on Sigler’s state of mind.
Court documents previously submitted by the defense cited those texts as a qualification for a charge of second-degree murder. The defense argued 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 argued, 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.”
During a previous hearing on the matter, 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 be 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.”
Police say that Brian Sigler admitted killing his wife in their home before he stabbed 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 at the Lee County Jail and will next appear in court on Feb. 27.