Nikko Jenkins changes his mind, won't plead guilty to all counts in 4 slayings - Omaha.com
Published Saturday, February 1, 2014 at 1:00 am / Updated at 11:31 am
Claims prosecutorial misconduct
Nikko Jenkins changes his mind, won't plead guilty to all counts in 4 slayings

Interactive timelines: Meet the Leverings | Nikko Jenkins

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Remember all that talk from Nikko Jenkins about wanting to plead guilty to the savage spree that killed four people?

Never mind.

In a series of court filings this week, Jenkins now says he should be released from jail because of what he claims is prosecutorial misconduct.

In one court filing, he writes that he “would like to move towards a dissmissal (sic) of all felony counts.”

Defense lawyers have dealt for years with runaway brides — defendants who declare they want to plead guilty, only to change their mind when they get to the judicial altar.

Some attorneys call it manipulation. Others call it indecision as defendants realize the gravity of the word “guilty.”

Jenkins, 27, filed his requests as he maintains that he was mentally ill and should have been committed to a mental institution after his release from prison.

State psychiatrists doubted Jenkins' claims of schizophrenia — saying he appeared to be faking it to avoid consequences. In turn, prison officials never sought to commit him before his July 30 release.

His attorney, Douglas County Public Defender Tom Riley, recently subpoenaed all records of Jenkins' treatment in prison — records that were used by a state ombudsman to criticize prison officials' handling of Jenkins.

Within three weeks of his release, authorities allege, Jenkins committed the Aug. 11 slayings of Jorge Cajiga-Ruiz and Juan Uribe-Pena in Spring Lake Park; the Aug. 19 slaying of Curtis Bradford near 18th and Clark Streets; and the Aug. 21 slaying of Andrea Kruger near 168th and Fort Streets.

Jenkins, 27, is scheduled for a competency hearing this month to determine whether he is capable of understanding the court process.

So far, a psychiatrist hired by the defense has declared him incompetent, but only because the doctor questioned whether Jenkins would have proper rapport with his attorneys. A state psychiatrist has found him competent to stand trial.

Jenkins now argues that prosecutors poisoned jurors against him by telling The World-Herald that a psychiatrist deemed him competent.

“These extrajudicial comments have heightened the public's condemnation of defendant ... which will directly instill prejudice and bias condemnation of Nikko Jenkins' public trial by jury of his peers,” he wrote in a court filing this week.

That statement wasn't the only example of how Jenkins has changed his stance from early November to now.

Then: Jenkins sat in a Douglas County courtroom and told a judge he wanted to plead guilty to the charges against him. He said he would do so — no matter what a psychiatric evaluation showed.

Now: “I am innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.”

Then: Jenkins sent a girlfriend to court to file a guilty plea on all counts. The court rejected that filing.

Now: Jenkins sent the same girlfriend to court to try to dismiss all counts. The court rejected that filing.

Then: Jenkins told District Judge Peter Bataillon: “I'm sick and tired of being in these confinements. I've asked for help numerous times ... Take me to my cell in death row ... and put it in God's hands.”

Now: “I am seeking release from custody.”

Reached Friday, Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine declined to comment, other than to say Jenkins' claims of prosecutorial misconduct have no merit.

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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