State Cleared on Release of Mentally Ill Killer

     (CN) – Nebraska officials have immunity for their decision to reduce mental health prison services, and release a man who hears the commands of an Egyptian snake god, causing him to murder four people three weeks after his release, the Eighth Circuit ruled.
     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.
     In 2013, Kruger claims 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 whose treatment status he wanted changed from inpatient to outpatient care.
     The change in designation accelerated those inmates’ eligibility for release, according to court documents.
     Kruger says that 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, was among those on the list.
     Jenkins’ face is covered with tattoos, which he claims are in the language of the ancient serpent god Apophis.
     When he was evaluated for release, Jenkins had been in prison for ten and a half 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.
     “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 his lawsuit .
     Nonetheless, the defendants allowed Jenkins to be released with only a cursory additional evaluation.
     According to the Omaha World-Herald, Andrea Kruger, a mother of three, 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.
     Jenkins was convicted of killing Kruger and three others over the course of 11 days, after pleading no-contest to the 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.
     Since his re-arrest, Jenkins has mutilated himself numerous times, most recently slicing his penis to make it look more like a snake, in a claimed homage to his purported god Apophis. He has also cut the word Satan across his face, tried to slice his tongue, and meant to carve 666 in his head, but etched it backwards because he was looking in the mirror.
     His death penalty sentencing hearing has been repeatedly delayed as the state evaluates him for mental competency.
     The Eighth Circuit ruled Wednesday that state officials are entitled to immunity on Kruger’s civil rights and state negligence claims stemming from his wife’s murder.
     “Kruger proclaims ‘the State had a duty to the public at large to not release a known and violent criminal,'” Judge William Riley said, writing for the three judge panel. But “Kruger’s proclaimed duty is not clearly established.”
     The judges said that Andrea was not a member of a precisely definable group that defendants had a duty to protect. Membership in the general public “does not suffice,” the panel ruled.
     The generalized danger to the public also distinguishes this case from Freeman v. Ferguson, where police were found liable for deliberately ignoring reports from two individuals who reported a danger specific to them, according to the 18-page judgment.
     Kruger claims that Jenkins was sentenced to serve 21 years in prison, so the state miscalculated his “good time” when he was released in July 2013.
     But “even if Kruger is correct in asserting that the discretionary function exception does not apply to mathematical sentence calculations,” he did not tell the court what prior crimes Jenkins was convicted of, what his sentences were, or when he should have been eligible for release, the panel concluded.

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