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On October 30, 2023, Richard Sigman, 49, of Carrollton, pleaded guilty in Carroll County Superior Court to Malice Murder, three counts of Aggravated Assault, and three counts of Possession of Firearm during Commission of a Felony. Pursuant to a negotiated plea, Coweta Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge Dustin Hightower sentenced Sigman to serve life in prison, with the possibility of parole, followed by fifty-five years to serve in prison consecutively. According to Georgia law, a sentence of life in prison with the possibility of parole requires the defendant to serve at least thirty years in prison before becoming eligible for parole consideration. Sigman, who was 47 years old at the time of the murder, will not be eligible for consideration for parole until he is 77 years old.
The case was prosecuted by District Attorney Herb Cranford, Chief Assistant District Attorney Jep Bendinger, Assistant District Attorney Caley McDonald, and DA Investigator Katia Detwiler. Sergeant Ian Wright of the Carrollton Police Department led the investigation. The District Attorney agreed to this plea, offered to the District Attorney’s Office by Sigman and his attorney, after considering the perspectives of the victims, their families, and Sgt. Wright. The District Attorney believes that agreeing to this sentence recommendation accomplished the objectives of obtaining a substantial prison sentence to protect our community and securing a conviction for the victims and their families without putting them through a traumatizing trial and yearslong appeal process.
After discussing this plea offer and sentence, the parents and sister of the murder victim, and the two living victims and their parents, all advised the District Attorney to accept this plea offer rather than proceed to trial on the scheduled trial date of November 27, 2023. While it is the wish of all of the victims and their families that Sigman never be released from prison, they also value the fact this plea avoids the re-traumatization of a jury trial and provides them some closure regarding this senseless crime. The families and the District Attorney will provide the parole board letters opposing Sigman’s parole consideration in 2052.
The investigation of this crime revealed the following: On July 30, 2022, Sigman chose to get severely intoxicated in downtown Carrollton while in the possession of a handgun. For reasons that are not clear from the evidence, shortly after midnight, Sigman stumbled into the lower level of the courthouse parking deck, drew his firearm, and walked up to the parked vehicle occupied by the three female victims, all of whom were college students. Sigman approached the passenger side of the vehicle and banged on the window while brandishing his handgun. The victims were naturally terrified and began to back out of the parking space to escape from Sigman. As they reversed out of the parking space, Sigman fired three rounds, striking the front seat passenger in the head and killing her.
Officers quickly responded to the parking deck and located Sigman on the ground of the parking lot next to his gun. At the scene Sigman claimed that someone shot at him and that he returned fire in self-defense. Parking deck security footage captured these events and clearly show that Sigman was never in any danger. His actions were legally unjustified, senseless, and incomprehensible.
Investigators were able to recreate much of Sigman’s evening that night using various security videos and witness interviews. Sigman had no prior connection with any of the victims in this case and had not encountered them that night before approaching and shooting into their vehicle. The only evidence that sheds any light on Sigman’s thinking is that, prior to the murder, he had an encounter with a citizen at a downtown bar and threatened to shoot the citizen. Security personnel for the establishment noticed that Sigman was armed and asked him to leave, which Sigman did.
Every murder case that comes through the District Attorney’s Office is a tragedy, but this case is particularly devastating because it occurred so randomly and inexplicably. These college students had done nothing even to draw the attention of this defendant and yet his violent actions took a life and forever changed two other lives. The District Attorney’s Office hopes this resolution provides these victims and their families a measure of justice.
JOHN HERBERT CRANFORD, JR.
COWETA JUDICIAL CIRCUIT
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