Nikko Jenkins' sister says idea of death penalty for brother is 'sinful' -
Published Monday, October 21, 2013 at 12:00 am / Updated at 11:25 am
Nikko Jenkins' sister says idea of death penalty for brother is 'sinful'

Read the letter
Timeline: 4 murders tied to Nikko Jenkins

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It seems Nikko Jenkins isn't the only Jenkins family member who bides his time writing letters from jail.

His sister and co-defendant, Erica Jenkins, wrote to The World-Herald this month — decrying the prison system, the governor's calls for her brother to get the death penalty and the concept of killing.

“We are all human beings,” she wrote. “None of us has the right to take another human being's life, no matter what! It's sinful.”

Erica Jenkins is charged with first-degree murder on allegations that she killed Curtis Bradford with a shot to the back of his head.

Besides the Aug. 19 execution-­style shooting of Bradford, she is accused of helping her brother lure Juan Uribe-­Pena and Jorge Cajiga-Ruiz to their deaths in Spring Lake Park on Aug. 11.

She also is accused of conspiring with her brother to attack Andrea Kruger, who was shot and killed Aug. 21 at 168th and Fort Streets.

Nikko Jenkins, 27, faces the possibility of the death penalty if convicted of four counts of first-degree murder. The 10-day killing spree followed his July 30 release after a decade in prison.

Erica Jenkins railed on the prison system that released her brother with “no effort to help rehabilitate” him.

“What do you expect will be the result and outcome of all these years of punishment in a prison ... being locked up and isolated from the community ... institutionalized, punished, mistreated and looked down on as criminals?”

The 23-year-old woman, who twice yelled at a judge and once overturned a lectern during court hearings, pounded a theme that the Jenkins family has tried to advance: that Nikko was mentally ill and in need of treatment, even a commitment to a psychiatric facility, following his prison sentence. The family has cited several suicide attempts and the idea that Nikko was schizophrenic.

Law enforcement officials have questioned just how concerned the Jenkins family was about Nikko, alleging that Erica was with him during all four killings and that their mother, Lori Jenkins, bought the ammunition that Nikko used in some of the killings.

Authorities also say a state psychiatrist evaluated Nikko Jenkins in 2010 and concluded that his only mental illness was antisocial personality disorder.

The psychiatrist essentially concluded that Nikko Jenkins was a sociopath who manipulated others and lacked empathy — a condition for which there is no prescribed treatment plan. Last spring, corrections officials transferred Nikko from the Tecumseh State Prison to the state penitentiary in Lincoln to be closer to social workers preparing him for release in July.

In contrast to some of her brother's erratic writings from prison, Erica Jenkins was coherent and critical throughout her four-page letter. She wrote in response to a World-Herald article about state proposals to beef up penalties for violating prison rules.

She wrote that her letter was directed “mainly towards” Gov. Dave Heineman, Director of Nebraska Correctional Services Michael L. Kenney and Omaha police union officials.

She criticized Heineman for “changing the subject by injecting the death penalty into debate rather than focusing on solutions and producing a plan to address relieving the state's chronically overcrowded prisons.”

Heineman had written to Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine, applauding him for pursuing the death penalty against Nikko Jenkins.

But mostly, Erica's letter focused on her brother.

“Blame and point your fingers at the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services for my brother. Nikko Jenkins' mental state basically deteriorated by keeping him segregated ... refusing him mental treatment and help. ...Why didn't anyone in corrections act on his repeated proclamations that he was mentally ill and homicidal?”

Contact the writer: Todd Cooper    |   402-444-1275

Todd covers courts and legal issues for The World-Herald.

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