'I Am A Killer: Released': Who is Dale Wayne Sigler, burglar who found freedom after death penalty was reversed?
Dale Wayne Sigler was sentenced to death nearly 30 years ago but in 1993, his sentence was changed and the new docuseries follows his first steps to freedom
Netflix has a slew of true crime documentaries and docuseries such as 'Making A Murderer' and 'Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness', but none of them are probably as chilling as 'I Am A Murderer', which follows convicts on death row and features interviews of them as they recount the crimes that led to their sentencing. The docuseries featured people like 54-year-old James Robertson, who is awaiting execution in Florida for killing his cellmate Frank Hart and Miguel Angel Martinez, who was the youngest person ever to be sentenced to death in Texas aged 17, to name a few.
Netflix's upcoming offering is along the same lines, but this time it features a convict who was earlier on death row and follows him as he is set for release on parole. 'I Am A Killer: Released' follows Dale Wayne Sigler, who was sentenced to death for capital murder nearly 30 years ago and his first steps to freedom, where he is placed into the custody of Carol, a 70-year-old prison pen pal he barely knows. The series was shot on location in Texas and produced over a three-year period. As Sigler begins to adjust on the outside, he addresses the life he took as well as the one he lost and reveals his true motive for committing the brutal crime, which is shockingly different to the reason the world always believed.
Rewind back to April 1990, specifically on the afternoon of April 6, when Sigler and his friends were "drinking beer, whiskey, smoking marijuana, smoking speed, and doing lines of speed," according to court documents. When Sigler spoke about needing money, he boasted that he was "drunk enough where he could rob some place". One of his friends suggested that Sigler commit the robbery at his place of employment, a sandwich shop nearby. Sigler then proceeded to ask his friends for details about the shop's operations and layout.
Sigler knew who would be working at the sandwich shop that night — a man named John William Zeltner Jr. Another of Sigler's friends handed him a .45 caliber handgun and told him that the first cartridge was a specially adapted exploding bullet. Now armed, Sigler proceeded to go to the sandwich shop, boasting that he would kill Zeltner Jr if necessary.
During his trial, Sigler confessed that he had entered the shop and began making small talk with Zeltner while he pulled out the gun. He then committed the robbery while following Zeltner to the backroom. There, Sigler shot Zeltner twice in the back of the head while the latter laid wounded on the floor. Sigler then went on to empty the gun, shooting Zeltner six times. He then exited the shop, careful to use his jacket to open the door so as not to leave fingerprints. Within 15 minutes of the robbery, two unsuspecting customers happened upon the sandwich shop and discovered Zeltner's body in the backroom. The cash register indicated that the robbery occurred around 1 am on April 7. Approximately $450 were missing.
After the robbery, Sigler returned to his friends, boasting that Zeltner would appear in the next day's obituaries. In the days following the murder, Sigler boasted and bragged about the murder "in great detail, without remorse" according to court documents, to several friends. He even told one friend that before he killed Zeltner, Sigler had apologized to the victim about having to kill him.
Sigler also has a juvenile record. His California juvenile record showed that he was placed on probation for two felony arrests for burglary. His probation officer testified that while on probation, Sigler had committed three more burglaries, and was ultimately given additional incarceration in juvenile hall. Sigler also had a prior criminal incident on record in Texas, a shop-lifting charge at an Arlington K-mart. Sigler had to be tackled and was kicking and hitting, and was subdued by several store employees.
In 1993, Texas changed its laws regarding jury selection. Sigler’s team successfully argued that this invalidated his sentence, which was changed to life imprisonment. He would be eligible for parole in 30 years. 'I Am A Killer: Released' will follow Sigler's steps to freedom as he is released on parole.
'I Am A Killer: Released' will be available to stream on Netflix on August 28 from 12 am PST.