The Messed-Up Case Of Nikko Jenkins

Nikko Jenkins is a convicted spree killer who was sentenced to the death penalty in 2014 for four murders in Omaha, according to the Nebraska Department of Correction Services. Since his conviction, there has been an ongoing debate among mental health professionals who have assessed Jenkins as to whether he is mentally ill or not, per the Death Penalty Information Center

Court documents published by the DPIC show that some psychiatric doctors say there is no doubt that he suffers from at least one major mental illness, and has since he was a child. Others say he's faking it to get out of the death penalty, and he learned as early as childhood that blaming voices or hallucinations for his behavior worked to get him out of trouble.

The debate as to whether Jenkins is competent is pivotal to whether the state can carry out the death penalty. As it stands now, he is still on death row. According to the Omaha World-Herald, Jenkins has been forcibly medicated for the last two years, but his attorney says it's wrong to forcibly medicate him so that he will be competent enough to be put to death by the state. 

Nikko Jenkins' murders were a family affair

Starting in 2003, Nikko Jenkins served 10 years in prison from the age of 15 for two armed carjackings, according to the Associated Press

Just eleven days after he was released in 2013, he shot and killed Juan Uribe-Pena and Jorge Cajiga-Ruiz to death after luring them with the help of his cousin and sister who pretended they were going to do sex acts with the men as prostitutes, court documents say. Both men were shot in the head with shotguns using deer slugs and their wallets stolen. 

Eight days later, Jenkins and his sister, Erica Jenkins, killed an acquaintance named Curtis Bradford. According to the prosecution, "Once they got to a location where he was murdered ... [Jenkins' sister] shot him once in the head. And then Jenkins said, this is how you do it, and — and proceeded to use a shotgun with a deer slug ..." (Erica was also convicted).

Next, just two days later, Jenkins killed a bartender named Andrea Kruger. According to court documents, Kruger was driving home from work the night of August 21, 2013, when she was carjacked by Jenkins, his uncle, his sister, and a cousin. The prosecutor claimed Jenkins pulled her out of her SUV so they could have the vehicle to "rob or jack other people." 

Jenkins shot Kruger four times in her head, neck, and back, then stole her car. 

Nikko Jenkins' problems started when he was just a 7-year-old boy

Jenkins' family being involved in crimes with him was not out of the ordinary. According to Omaha's KETV, the extended Jenkins family counts seven felons, including both of his parents.

Nikko, one of six siblings born to Lori Jenkins and David Magee, started showing violent tendencies and possible mental illness in elementary school. People Pill reported that at age 7, Jenkins brought a loaded .25 caliber handgun to school. 

Court records say when Jenkins was 8-years-old his mom took him to the hospital "due to statements of self-harm and increasing aggression toward others." He was admitted and spent 11 days there. Psychiatrist Dr. Jane Dahlke evaluated him and diagnosed him with oppositional defiant disorder and attention deficit hyperactive disorder. 

Dahlke testified in court that at the time Jenkins said he heard voices telling him to steal and had other auditory hallucinations. He said he would see "black spirits," and have nightmares about his dad shooting his mom. 

According to People Pill, Jenkins stopped going to school regularly when he was 11, the same age at which he was kicked out of a group home for repeat violence. By 13-years-old he'd assaulted someone with a knife. At 15 he was convicted of two armed carjackings and stayed incarcerated until 2013 when he was released and went on a killing spree. 

Nikko Jenkins says an Egyptian serpent god gives him orders

One of the voices Nikko Jenkins claims have stuck with him is that of the Egyptian serpent god, Apophis — a god representing evil, chaos, darkness, and destruction according to Mythology

According to Jenkins now ex-wife, Chalonda Jenkins, Nikko told her that Apophis gives him orders, and he's heard from the Egyptian snake god since childhood. Chalonda told KETV 7 her husband at the time told her, "it was just this voice that said, 'if you do what I tell you to do, if you follow my demands, then I'll make sure you're safe and make sure you're okay." 

Jenkins admitted he did the 2013 shootings and plead no contest in court, but according to court documents, he claimed it was Apophis who told him to do it. Jenkins said, "It wasn't premeditated. The demonic force led me to them just like to the other victims."

According to The Guardian NG and the Omaha World-Herald, while in prison, Jenkins sliced through his penis and his tongue to make them look more serpent-like to pay reverence to Apophis. He then smeared blood all over his cell. 27 stitches were needed to mend his penis and nine for his tongue.

Nikko Jenkins has been diagnosed with multiple mental illnesses

Lengthy court records document various psychiatrists' and psychologists' findings about Nikko Jenkins after assessing his mental health, assessments that have gone on for decades. In 2009, one doctor diagnosed Jenkins with "psychosis not otherwise specified" and bipolar disorder.

Another decided on an "Axis I" diagnosis of schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disorder. Dr. Bruce D. Gutnik assessed Jenkins many times over the years as far back as 2011 and diagnosed him with "Schizophrenia, Continuous, Severe."

When Gutnik next saw Jenkins in November 2013, he stood by his original diagnoses, saying now that Jenkins had "schizophrenia versus schizoaffective disorder, depressed type, and rule out personality disorder otherwise not specified." Gutnik saw Jenkins again in May 2014, then again in April and December 2015, and in June 2016. The doctor maintained the convict was psychotic.

According to court records, Gutnik said proof of that psychosis was that Jenkins had performed multiple mutilations on his own penis, and said a person would "have to be fairly out of touch and psychotic to be able to not react to that level of pain."

But Jenkins is no stranger to self-harm. According to NBC 6, one attorney told them Jenkins' suicide attempts in prison must be in the double digits at this point. In March 2019, he slashed at his eye and neck with a sharpened tile pulled off the wall. Another time he tried to cut his own throat.

Several psychiatrists think Jenkins is faking mental illness

While Gutnik and a few other psychiatrists and psychologists have diagnosed Jenkins with various mental illnesses, others maintain he's malingering, or faking it. While they do find that he has certain mental disorders, they don't think it rises to the level of severe mental illness that would make him incompetent and therefore could not be put to death.

Per the court document, "There is no doubt that Jenkins exhibited abnormal behaviors. But a number of experts believed that he was malingering. A test revealed scores indicative of feigning a mental disorder..."

The document goes on to list 10 mental health doctors that either say he has no "major mental illness," or whatever mental health problems he has, it's not psychosis, but rather something like antisocial personality disorder, including having "narcissistic and borderline traits" but they think "he malingered other symptoms."

Psychiatrist Y. Scott Moore believes all of Jenkins' symptoms were made up and have been all along, all the way back to childhood, when he learned to use "fanciful stories to try to explain his behavior and not be held accountable for it."

Regardless of whether Jenkins is found competent to be put to death, it's currently moot, as the Omaha World-Herald reported that the state's supply of lethal injection drugs expired in 2018 and they have made no moves to replace them.