Video Update: Judge Rules on Care For Killer Jenkins

By: WOWT 6 News Email
By: WOWT 6 News Email

Convicted killer Nikko Jenkins will get mental health care from the state hospital, but it will be provided to him in prison. A judge in Omaha made the decision Tuesday afternoon.

Jenkins has been found guilty of murdering four people but he has not been sentenced. Before sentencing could take place, Jenkins was ruled mentally incompetent.

A judge then ordered that he be treated at the Lincoln Regional Center -- which is a hospital, not a prison. State officials balked at that notion because Jenkins has such a violent history.

Today the judge decided that Jenkins can receive his mental health care at the Lincoln Correctional Center or the Diagnostic and Evaluation Center in Lincoln, but the personnel from the Lincoln Regional Center will be in charge. The Lincoln Correctional Center and Diagnostics and Evaluation Center are located on the same campus under the umbrella of the Department of Corrections. The Regional Center - which is operated by Health and Human Services - is two miles from Lincoln Corrections.

"The court is appalled at the lack of security at the Lincoln Regional Center," said Douglas County District Judge Peter Bataillon. "...something has to be done to make it appropriately secure. I can't wait for that to be done. [Jenkins] needs to be restored as soon as possible. I don't want him waiting in limbo and deteriorate even more."

In court, the defense hammered the Lincoln Regional Center's medical director, Dr. Roger Donovick, who's been on the job for just a couple months. He acknowledges the hospital should have better security to protect the staff and other inmates getting treatment.

"Let's face it," said public defender Tom Riley, "A few years ago, one of the doctors was killed by one of the patients. In the past I've asked them what security changes had been made since then -- and the answer is none."

Jenkins could be transferred from the Douglas County Jail to Lincoln for treatment as early as Monday.

State Senator Ernie Chambers told questions who will really be in charge, since Jenkins will be in prison, and not the state hospital. "Every time the prison decides it wants to do something, it will do it. And what they say as a prison will trump the what the regional center staff says in terms of medical care and treatment. It should not have happened this way.

The hospital is the place for psychiatric treatment," said Jenkins' public defender, who argued putting his client in jail won't help his mental illness. "It's unprecedented this has happened where treatment will be handled in prison."

The state argued that since most of the people being treated at the Lincoln Regional Center are still awaiting trial and Jenkins is awaiting sentencing -- he would have even more incentive to escape from the hospital.

Defense doctors haven't said how long it will take to restore Jenkins' competency.

It was a year ago August that Jenkins killed four people. The murders taking place just days after he had been released from prison.


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