A Nebraska man who was found not guilty by reason of insanity in the murders of six people in 1975 will remain in custody for now. A Lincoln County district judge heard testimony Tuesday for the release of 67-year-old Erwin Charles Simants.
Simants was initially convicted and sentenced to death for shooting six members of the Henry Kellie family in 1975 outside of Sutherland, Nebraska. The last surviving family member, 75-year-old Audrey Brown, attended the trial and every hearing held since then. She was at Tuesday morning's proceedings.
"I need to be here so that everyone remembers that there was a family involved in this and that I'm alive and I care about them."
The verdict was overturned on appeal and Simants was found not guilty by reason of insanity in 1979. He was taken to the Lincoln Regional Center.
The Lincoln County district judge will be reviewing testimony for the next 30 days. A decision on Simants' release will be made by October 24th.
The defense attorney asked the court to consider Simants' release. "He is no longer mentally ill and I think that is supported by the evidence," said Lincoln County Public Defender Robert Lindemeier. "All four doctors testified in their depositions and also submitted in their reports that he is no longer mentally ill."
Attorney Rebecca Harling argued that while doctors have said Simants is not considered mentally ill, there is concern over his release. Doctors say triggers like drugs, alcohol and sexual stimuli may play a factor in future violent attacks. According to reports, Simants was under the influence when he killed the family.
Simants has a yearly review of his case. No judge has ever ruled in favor of his release.