Society

Should “Sexts” Be Used as Evidence in Murder Case? Judge Decides

| by Allison Geller

As Brian Sigler awaits trial for killing his wife Yolanda almost a year ago, the court is debating about whether or not to include sexual text messages between Sigler’s wife and another man as evidence— a determining factor in whether Sigler will be tried for first or second degree murder.

Sigler, 34, of Dixon, Illinois strangled his wife Yolanda, also 34, on Jan. 12, 2013 before stabbing himself several times. The couple’s 10-year-old son found him bleeding in the bathroom and called 911. Sigler was treated for life threatening stab wounds before being booked for homicide.

Now Sigler’s defense attorney James Mertes is asking that illicit text messages Sigler found on his wife’s phone, allegedly between the victim and another man, should be included as evidence in the case.

He argued that the messages, which have been sealed by the court, are proof that Yolanda was committing adultery and that they sparked Brian Sigler’s crime of passion.

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

The defense argues that the texts are necessary to shed light on Sigler’s state of mind at the time he committed the act. For a second degree murder charge, less serious than a first degree premeditated murder, the defense must show that  “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 does not agree that the messages can be used, since an Illinois state law dictates that a statement by a deceased witness can only be used if that witness was under oath at the time, so it could have stood the challenge of 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.”

A judge will decide whether the texts can be used as evidence on Jan. 15.

Sources: WQAD, SaukValley.com (2)