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Husband wants new charges dropped

Motion calls counts ‘different,’ cites speedy trial issues

Published: Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014 1:15 a.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014 10:57 a.m. CDT

DIXON – A Dixon man who is accused of killing his wife is seeking dismissal of two new murder charges.

On July 18, Lee County State’s Attorney Anna Sacco-Miller added two more charges of first-degree murder to the one already filed against Brian C. Sigler, 35. Sigler is accused of strangling his wife, Yolanda, in their home on Jan. 12, 2013.

According to the new counts, Sigler, “with the intent to kill Yolanda M. Sigler ... strangled [her], thereby causing [her death]” and “strangled Yolanda M. Sigler, knowing such acts would cause [her death].”

The original count stated that Sigler “knowingly strangled Yolanda M. Sigler, knowing that such act created a strong probability of death and thereby caused [her death].”

The two new counts are similar to the original, but language is important when a jury decides its verdict, so prosecutors often file multiple counts of the same charge with different wording, giving jurors more options when considering a verdict.

James Fagerman, of Mertes & Mertes in Sterling, is one of Sigler’s attorneys. In his motion to dismiss the new charges, filed Aug. 13, he argues that they constitute substantial changes, rather than slight alterations of wording, “because they alter the nature and elements of the offense charged.”

The attorney also says that because those charges were added more than 120 days after Sigler’s original demand for a speedy trial, the state shouldn’t be allowed to prosecute them.

Sigler was indicted on the original charge on Feb. 8, 2013; he pleaded not guilty on Feb. 15, 2013. He pleaded not guilty to the additional charges on July 23.

His next court appearance is a status hearing set for Sept. 10. The motion could be argued at that time.

Sacco-Miller could have faced a similar speedy-trial argument last year when she added a first-degree murder charge in the case of Charles T. George, originally charged with aggravated battery of a child in the death of his infant daughter. He eventually pleaded guilty to that charge.

In that case, the murder charge also was added more than 120 days after George’s original demand for a speedy trial. It was substantially different than the aggravated battery charge, though, so Sacco-Miller dropped it after an assistant alerted her to the time issue.

She is, however, allowed to file new charges past the 120-day deadline if they are determined not to be substantially different from the original charge, a decision that will be up to Judge Ron Jacobson.

Sigler was in Lee County Jail on $2 million bond on Wednesday.

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