Court Ruling - Judge Peter Bataillon
The fact that this is a death penalty case heightens the concern and consideration of this Court. Therefore, based upon the evidence before the Court and the recent deterioration of the Defendant, this Court does not find that the Defendant is competent to proceed further. As such, this matter is set for further hearing on July 29, 2014 at 10:30 a.m. to discuss the means and location to restore the Defendant to competency.
A judge has found Nikko Jenkins not competent to proceed with sentencing for now.
Jenkins has been found guilty of murdering four people in 10 days last August.
With the death penalty phase of the case now in limbo, the judge has set a hearing for July 29 to determine how to restore Jenkins' competency.
Five psychiatrists believe Jenkins has major mental illness and two doctors believe he's been faking it since was 8-years-old.
"We were a little surprised but we will assess the opinion from the judge and go forward,” Deputy Douglas County Attorney Brenda Beadle said. "It really doesn't matter if there is a mental illness or not because you can be mentally ill and be competent so there are certain factors that the Supreme Court has laid out to determine competency."
"This is about competency so what other doctors say about what he was doing when he was 8 or what he was doing last February isn't relative to how his state of mind is or whether he understands the proceedings, that is competency," Beadle added.
One of the five, Dr. Bruce Gutnik, told the court that Jenkins' competency could be restored with the right treatment and medications for his mental illness.
It's unclear where Jenkins will be treated. It's common practice for that to take place at the Lincoln Regional Center but the Lincoln Regional Center has said Jenkins is too dangerous for its facility.
The judge’s competency ruling on Friday follows a hearing last week in which Jenkins' attorneys tried to convince a judge that things have changed and that Jenkins, who has already been found guilty, shouldn't be punished yet. That hearing went on for six hours.
Jenkins was convicted of killing Juan Uribe-Pena, Jorge Cajiga-Ruiz, Curtis Bradford, and Andrea Kruger. They were all murdered in a 10-day killing spree shortly after Jenkins had been released from prison.
Jenkins' mental state has been called into question since the start. It has been the subject of review at various stages of the case against him.
Jenkins eventually entered No Contest pleas to the charges against him. The case was set to go to a three-judge panel to decide punishment and the punishment included the possibility of the death penalty. That phase of the case is what is now on hold pending the hearing set for July 29th.