Judges move Jenkins closer to death penalty

Posted at 4:56 PM, Nov 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-16 18:29:49-05

The 3-judge panel finds that there are multiple aggravators in the case against Nikko Jenkins on Wednesday, but if he'll get the death penalty is still up in the air.

District Court Judge Peter Bataillon, Judge Terri Harder, and Judge Mark Johnson find that 6 of the 9 aggravators are present, so Jenkins’ death penalty phase will move forward.

Jenkins is convicted of murdering Jorge Ruiz, Juan Pena, Curtis Bradford, and Andrea Kruger in a 10-day span in the summer of 2013 after being released from prison.  He pleaded “No Contest” to four counts of murder in 2014 while he represented himself.

The judges decided that multiple murders were committed at the spring lake park scene, and that Jenkins had a significant history of violence before all the killings.  But they did not find beyond a reasonable doubt that the Spring Lake Park men and Andrea Kruger were murdered to conceal a robbery.

Jenkins testified in his own defense on Tuesday, but left the hearing early today so he could go back to Lincoln on Wednesday.

“Anything you wanted to say before you leave?” Senior Reporter Jake Wasikowski asked.

“Attorney General Loretta Lynch please file an internal affairs investigation,” Jenkins said.

Jenkins now says he's innocent of all charges, and only confessed to the murders to try and get his mother out of jail.

Public Defender Tom Riley the argued Jenkins' Schizoaffective Disorder diagnosis should keep him from being put to death.  It's the same mental illness, Riley says, got worse when Jenkins was put in solitary confinement for years by the Nebraska Department of Corrections.

For years prosecutors have argued that Jenkins is faking mental illness to get his way, and put blame on someone else for his heinous actions.

The mothers of Curtis Bradford and Andrea Kruger also address the court before the judges recessed.

“Nikko Jenkins is a purely evil and savage man that murdered my daughter Andrea.  He killed a part of each of us that morning he killed Andrea,” Teri Roberts, Kruger’s mother described. “Andrea deserves to be remembered by more than just pictures and stories,”

Now the judges will weigh the factors, and read dozens of other death penalty cases before making their decision.  Attorneys expect that will take months.