Warning: Nikko Jenkins' letter contains language that may be disturbing to some readers. Click to read Jenkins' letter.
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Nikko Jenkins wants to plead guilty to the August slayings of four people in the hope that he will shield his victims' families from gruesome crime-scene photos and court testimony.
The source of that information? Jenkins himself.
In separate letters to The World-Herald, prosecutors and even the judge overseeing his case, Jenkins said he wants to plead guilty to all first-degree murder and weapons charges in the shooting deaths of Jorge Cajiga-Ruiz and Juan Uribe-Pena in Spring Lake Park, Curtis Bradford near 18th and Clark Streets and Andrea Kruger near 168th and Fort Streets.
“Please help me help the victums [sic] families of my crimes get closure and please not be exposed to more misery and suffering sorrows of a trial,” Jenkins wrote in a letter received Wednesday by The World-Herald. “I wish to plead guilty to all counts.”
Jenkins wrote that he sent similar requests to Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine and “my judge” – District Judge Peter Bataillon. Officials confirmed receiving those letters, though they declined to release copies.
Jenkins then went a step farther. A young woman – believed to be one of his girlfriends – went to the District Court clerk's office Wednesday with a "waiver and plea of guilty." The woman, who gave only the first name Johnetta, claimed to be Jenkins' power of attorney and said that Jenkins wanted her to enter guilty pleas to all 16 counts he faces.
Though in the court file, that document – which is actually a form used for misdemeanors in county court, not district court – "means nothing" as far as Jenkins' fate, court officials say. The woman had no paperwork proving she was Jenkins' power of attorney. And any pleas would have to be handled in court after a judge advised Jenkins of his rights.
Nonetheless, the multiple letters and filings seemed to indicate Jenkins' intentions.
Jenkins stood silent Oct. 9 when Bataillon asked him to answer to the charges that he killed four people. The judge then entered not guilty pleas on Jenkins' behalf.
Just because a defendant declares he wants to plead guilty doesn't mean it will happen.
Defense lawyers are loath to have their clients plead guilty to first-degree murder charges – especially when such a plea could land them on death row.
Kleine has filed for the death penalty in Jenkins' case. Typically, defense attorneys allow their clients to plead guilty only if prosecutors are willing to take the death penalty off the table.
Kleine said he wasn't ready to discuss those options yet. He noted that Jenkins' attorneys haven't asked for a plea hearing. Nor has anyone even mentioned plea negotiations, he said.
Kleine said he also received a letter Wednesday similar to the one Jenkins sent to The World-Herald. He turned it over to Omaha homicide detectives to be booked into evidence against Jenkins.
The letters were the latest in a line of missives from Jenkins, who has proved himself a prolific letter writer.
Before his July 30 release from prison, Jenkins wrote a series of letters to prosecutors and judges. The ones written in print were legible and typically raised issues that he was being mistreated in court or in prison.
The other letters, in cursive, were filled with nonsensical run-on sentences warped into geometric shapes.
In those, Jenkins claimed to be ruled by an Egyptian serpent demon named “Ahpophis” and warned that he would protect the kingdom with “animalistic savage brutality.”
The latest letter was a mix of both. Jenkins hit on his previous themes — that he tried to obtain psychiatric treatment in prison on his belief that he was schizophrenic and bipolar. Jenkins claimed that prison officials refused to treat him.
“I never wished for anyone to be killed,” Jenkins wrote. “I only wanted help psychiatric treatment ... NE State mental health professional failed ... as I requested to be hospitalized numerous times. They had full knowledge of Ahpophis And demonic forces.”
A state psychiatrist who evaluated Jenkins has written that he believed Jenkins was making up his claims of being commanded by demons. The psychiatrist diagnosed Jenkins as suffering only from antisocial personality disorder — essentially finding that he's a sociopath who would not be amenable to treatment.
In the latest two-page letter, Jenkins claims to have “repented my sins to God.”
“I Begg [sic] for His mercy And Grace to Forgive me yet Jesus is convicting me to spare these families traumatization of Seeing the Brutal Facts of what a mentally ill schizophrenic did to their family,” he wrote.
“The victums' [sic] families do not deserve to see the Brutal nature their family members were killed in crime scene photos that will be largely displayed at trial...''
Kruger's husband, Michael-Ryan Kruger, was skeptical of Jenkins' intentions — saying the letter gave him “a lot to chew on.”
Kruger said he is “indifferent” on the death penalty and wouldn't necessarily be dead-set against Jenkins facing a life sentence instead of capital punishment.
Kruger expressed reservations about the couple's children — Ava, 4, Hartley, 2, and Jadyn, 13 — having to relive their mother's death every time Jenkins came up in a death penalty appeal over the next 20 years.
As for the trauma of a trial, Kruger said he fully expects at least some of Jenkins' family members — seven are charged — to take their case to trial. Kruger noted that prosecutors have assured him that they will forewarn him any time graphic testimony or photos are approaching.
“In my opinion, it's a slam-dunk case,” Kruger said. “So it's not like he's saving me from anything. It just makes you wonder if it's another ploy.”