Nikko Jenkins sends woman to courthouse to submit written guilty plea for him - Omaha.com
Published Friday, November 8, 2013 at 1:00 am / Updated at 11:55 am
Nikko Jenkins sends woman to courthouse to submit written guilty plea for him

Warning: Nikko Jenkins' letter contains language that may be disturbing to some readers. Click to read Jenkins' letter to The World-Herald.


* * *

Turns out, Nikko Jenkins did more than send letters saying that he wanted to plead guilty to killing four people.

He also apparently sent a woman to the Douglas County Courthouse to submit a written guilty plea.

A young woman — believed to be one of Jenkins' 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 she had Jenkins' power of attorney and said Jenkins wanted her to enter guilty pleas to all 16 counts he faces.

Though entered into the court file, that document — actually a form used for misdemeanors in County Court, not District Court — “means nothing” as far as Jenkins' fate, court officials say.

Jenkins, 27, has a lawyer, and the woman had no paperwork proving she had Jenkins' power of attorney.

And any pleas he might make would be handled in a courtroom after a judge advised Jenkins of his rights.

Nonetheless, the multiple letters — first reported Thursday in The World-Herald — and the court filing seemed to indicate Jenkins' intentions.

Jenkins sent the letters to the newspaper, prosecutors and a judge.

“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. “I wish to plead guilty to all counts.”

He stood silent Oct. 9 when District Judge Peter Bataillon asked him to answer to the charges that he killed 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 over a 10-day period in August.

Bataillon entered not guilty pleas on Jenkins' behalf, as is customary when a defendant stands silent. Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine has filed for the death penalty in the case.

Public Defender Tom Riley said his office can't and won't “ignore a client's request.”

However, Riley said, he has no plans to ask the judge for “any kind of substantive hearing in the immediate future.”

Riley said defense lawyers sometimes deal with defendants who “make decisions based on impulse rather than thinking it through.” Death row inmate Carey Dean Moore several times has asked to end his appeals and be executed — only to change his mind later.

One of the options Riley still needs to explore: Jenkins' state of mental health, now and at the time of the crimes.

“As you can imagine, based on his mental health history, there are some questions that need to be resolved before we take any significant steps towards resolution,” Riley said.

Family members of victims in the spree said they were skeptical of Jenkins' stated desire to plead guilty.

Kruger's husband, Michael-Ryan Kruger, noted that a guilty plea wouldn't spare the families any grisly details of the crimes because six other Jenkins family members are awaiting trial in the slayings.

And even if Nikko Jenkins pleaded guilty to all four killings, prosecutors likely would still have to hold a trial to prove the aggravating factors necessary to merit the death penalty.

Under Nebraska law, a jury must find beyond a reasonable doubt that those aggravating factors exist, unless a defendant waives his right to have a jury weigh those factors.

Timeline: 4 killings tied to Nikko Jenkins

Contact the writer: Todd Cooper

todd.cooper@owh.com    |   402-444-1275

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

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