Nikko Jenkins plead no contest Wednesday to four counts of first-degree murder, four counts of use of a deadly weapon and six counts of possession of a deadly weapon.
Douglas County District Judge Peter Bataillon accepted the plea. No contest pleas are treated as guilty pleas at sentencing. Jenkins still faces the death penalty. A three judge panel will be convened to decide the punishment.
The 27-year-old had filed a handwritten motion Friday saying he wanted to plead guilty. Jenkins, acting as his own attorney, was accused of shooting four people to death in three separate attacks over 10 days after being released from prison last July 30th.
Jenkins called WOWT 6 News on Tuesday, telling reporter Brian Mastre that he believes higher courts will ultimately free him in spite of his admissions to killing Juan Uribe-Pena, Jorge Cajiga-Ruiz, Curtis Bradford, and Andrea Kruger “because that was not me admitting it, that was under police trickery. That was under police interrogation of lying and tactics they were doing to me and preying on me for my mental illness."
Not only did Jenkins tell police he was guilty after being arrested last August, but he admitted it to WOWT 6 News weeks later. He then pleaded not guilty, claiming he didn't receive proper mental health treatment while in prison.
On Wednesday, Jenkins said some of the same things in the hallway as he did in court. He rambled about Egyptian gods making him do it.
The judge asked Jenkins if he wanted to switch to a Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity plea.
Jenkins said no, he wanted to plead guilty.
He later decided not to contest the charges. The court sees that as a guilty plea.
Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine said, “He got up all the way to when he did something and then he heard voices, then he doesn't remember what happened in each case."
As the state walked the judge through the facts from the cold-blooded shooting of two South Omaha men to the murder of a man he met in prison to shooting death of a mother of three on her way home from work because he wanted her SUV, Jenkins spent much of the time smirking.
At times he held crime-scene photos high up so people in the crowd could see them.
Jenkins told the judge that while some evidence placed him at all three murder scenes he doesn't remember any of it because he was listening to the voices in his head.
The prosecutor believes the No Contest pleas should hold up to the strain of appeal.
Kleine said, “Historically there have first degree murder no contest pleas that have held up. We've certainly looked at case law. The judge wanted to make sure everything went the way it was supposed to from the standpoint of rights and the factual basis."
Embracing each other in tears, the family of Curtis Bradford celebrated the outcome of the two-hour hearing
Curtis Bradford’s mother, Velita Glasgow, said, “I'm ready for the next stage. I am glad that there is a guilty verdict but I'm ready to move on. This is too hard for me. It's too hard for my family. It's too much.
"No one's ever had to kiss their son's exit wounds," she said. "I have."
At one point, Bradford's mother left the courtroom in tears while the state described how Jenkins brutally murdered the four victims over a 10 day period.
One Bradford family member said, “It's hard for her to take it when they start talking about the death of her son. So, she just can't stand, it's just too hard for her to deal with."
A three judge-panel will decide if Jenkins should get the death penalty, then comes the sentencing.
That sentencing is not something Andrea Kruger's widower says he needs to witness.
Michael-Ryan Kruger said, “This is the last time I'm coming here, that's for sure. Hopefully it's the last time anyone has to come here."
We don’t yet know when sentencing will be scheduled. The Nebraska Supreme Court will first have to appoint two more judges to form the three-judge panel that will get the case next.
Without a finding for the death penalty, the No Contest pleas would put Jenkins in prison for life.
Jenkins believes that his lawsuits against the judge and others in federal court will set him free.