OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - The twisted pieces of a convoluted puzzle were rearranged again Friday. By the time a court appearance had ended, convicted killer Nikko Jenkins' no contest plea to four murders remained intact.
Jenkins is still headed to the death penalty phase of his case next month. He pleaded to four counts of first-degree murder and use of weapon to commit a felony for a brutal killing spree in August 2013 that left four people dead.
Two weeks after being found competent for sentencing, possibly to death, Jenkins was back to court. His defense counsel planned to withdraw the no contest plea. On Friday morning, Jenkins objected to that plan. He told the judge he wants to be sentenced so he can get out of solitary confinement, even if that means being sent to death row. He said being in solitary put him in a vicious cycle of self-mutilation requiring more than 150 stitches.
The divisiveness came between Jenkins and public county defender Tom Riley. "You can't try to save people from themselves," said Riley. "That's what I am trying to do."
Riley initially filed the motion to withdraw Jenkins' no contest plea, which was made when Jenkins was representing himself. "The plea is very, very questionable validity," said Riley. "He was asserting that he was crazy, he was disputing all the factual basis and as you could hear today, he still wants to kind of litigate his guilt, innocence and he doesn't grasp the fact that while to do that you have to withdraw the plea."
At the time, it had not been determined whether Jenkins was competent to be sentenced. Now that he has been ruled competent, Jenkins got into an argument with Riley Friday morning. "The judge says he is competent, so he can do what he wants to do when it comes to the issue of pleading or not pleading," said Riley. "While I'm totally in disagreement, it's his call."
In the end the judge sided with Jenkins, who will return to solitary confinement until sentencing in November. Riley said he will continue to represent Jenkins as best as possible. "I've got some motions I have to file on the validity of the death penalty as you heard me allude to in there. We'll see what happens with that."
Jenkins claimed Riley is making a lot of money on this case and doesn't want this "cash cow to disappear." The judge had to remind Jenkins that the Douglas County public defender is an elected position with a set salary.