OMAHA (CN) - Nebraska's prison director drastically reduced mental health services to inmates and released one man despite his repeated statements that "he did not want to be released into the community because he will kill people," the husband of a woman he did murder claims in court.
Michael-Ryan Kruger claims his wife's murder on Aug. 21, 2013 was a direct result of former Director of Corrections Robert Houston's order to dramatically cut back on mental health services provided to inmates. Kruger sued Nebraska, Houston and other prison officials, in Douglas County Court.
Sometime in the spring of 2013, Kruger says, Houston directed defendant Cameron White, the department's behavioral health administrator, to reduce the inpatient treatment program from 10 months to 6 months, and provided White with a list of inmates - a list allegedly containing hundreds of names of people whose treatment status he wanted changed from inpatient to outpatient care.
Kruger claims the change in designation automatically made those inmates eligible for release.
Among these individuals was Nikko Jenkins, a violent offender with a history of delusions, including claims that he heard the voice of an Egyptian god who told him to hurt people.
When he was evaluated for release, Jenkins had been in prison for 10½ years, and during that time he engaged in numerous violent acts, including assaulting a corrections officer, assaulting other inmates, engaging in gang activities, and possessing a dangerous weapon, according to the complaint.
On March 4, 2013, Kruger claims, defendant Dr. Natalie Baker, a physician working at the Tecumseh State Prison Facility, "expressed concerns about verifying the absence or presence of a mental illness in Jenkins."
"From March 5-7, 2013, Jenkins repeatedly told staff evaluators he did not want to be released into the community because he will kill people," Kruger says in the lawsuit.
Nonetheless, the defendants allowed Jenkins to be released with only a cursory additional evaluation, Kruger says.
"In performing the evaluation and diagnosis set forth above, defendants acted with deliberate indifference to the established policies, practices or customs government treatment and incarceration, which caused the injuries suffered by Andrea Kruger, failed to follow commonly accepted medical practices, and basically showed no common sense, given Jenkins' consistent history of psychotic behavior and continuing efforts of trying to get himself committed to the Lincoln Regional Center for a mental health evaluation and treatment," Kruger says.
According to the Omaha World-Herald, Andrea Kruger was pulled out of her sports utility vehicle in a late-night carjacking, shot four times and left to die in the middle of a northwest Omaha street.
In April, Jenkins was convicted of killing Kruger and three others over the course of 11 days.
Jenkins pleaded no-contest to the murder charges. He told Douglas County Judge Peter Bataillon during a rambling, often incoherent speech in the courtroom that he didn't pull the trigger and that demons were responsible for the four deaths, KETV-TV in Omaha reported.
A three-judge panel will decide whether to impose the death penalty.
Kruger seeks hospital and funeral expenses and damaged for wrongful death, negligence and infliction of emotional distress.
His lead counsel is Vincent Powers, of Lincoln.