Two psychiatrists took the stand Wednesday and methodically gave their opinions about whether Nikko Jenkins is competent to stand trial on four first-degree murder charges.
The state psychiatrist soberly said he is. The defense psychiatrist stoically said he isn't.
Then came Dr. Eugene Oliveto.
The 72-year-old psychiatrist — who announced that he used to be in a “rock 'n' roll band” — wasn't there to declare Jenkins' competency. He acknowledged that he doesn't do such evaluations — nor does he make such declarations.
However, the part-time psychiatrist at the Douglas County Jail made plenty of other declarations — about the prison system, the mental health commitment process, even Jenkins himself.
At one point, he called Jenkins — in “street” terms — “totally insane.” That drew a chuckle from Jenkins.
Oliveto said he would love to see a scan of Jenkins' brain.
“This guy's brain — he'd be so disconnected from his frontal lobes,” Oliveto said. “He's disconnected from his heart and he's disconnected from his soul.”
Oliveto was called by the defense to try to rebut prosecutors' contentions that Jenkins is faking mental illness to try to excuse his behavior. Officials say that behavior includes the Aug. 11 slayings of Jorge Cajiga-Ruiz and Juan Uribe-Pena; the Aug. 19 slaying of Curtis Bradford; and the Aug. 21 slaying of Andrea Kruger.
A psychiatrist for 40 years, Oliveto rarely stuck to the script on the stand. He both rebutted and, at times, reinforced prosecutors' idea that Jenkins is faking.
The colorful graduate of St. John's University in New York — who attended the Creighton University School of Medicine in the 1960s — had treated Jenkins while Jenkins was in the Douglas County Jail in 2010 and 2011.
Oliveto was one of two doctors to declare Jenkins schizophrenic. Three other doctors have disputed that, saying they believe Jenkins is feigning mental illness.
Is he competent to stand trial? Judge Peter Bataillon is expected to make a decision on that issue later this week.
“I can't tell you whether he's competent to stand trial,” Oliveto said. “I'm just saying he's crazy ... totally insane.”
Prosecutor Brenda Beadle asked if Oliveto meant that as a diagnosis.
“I'm using (the word insane) loosely,” Oliveto said. “It's just part of my street smarts.
“He could do things purposefully at times. ... He's not always psychotic.”
Oliveto acknowledged that Jenkins often refers to acting under the command of Opophis — an Egyptian serpent god.
Oliveto waved a hand in the air as if swatting that notion away.
“If I've got to listen to him about this BS one more time — I'm tired of hearing that.
“It's totally in his hard head. Is he making it up? If he (is), he sure is consistent.”
Oliveto said Jenkins is one of the most dangerous patients he has treated. Just this week, Oliveto said he asked Jenkins if Jenkins would kill Oliveto on command of Opophis.
Jenkins smiled, leaned back and thought about it “for about five minutes,” Oliveto said.
“He hesitated and his voice got real low and he said, 'No,'” Oliveto said.
Jenkins then explained that he liked Oliveto and that the “Holy Spirit” sometimes intercepts the purported commands from Opophis, Oliveto said.
It didn't hurt that “five armed guards” were in the cell with Oliveto, the doctor said.
Oliveto acknowledged that Jenkins can be manipulative. When Jenkins was in the Douglas County Jail, Oliveto said, he prescribed him psychiatric medicine. But Jenkins quit taking the pills after two weeks.
“Because I wouldn't give him a snack,” Oliveto said with a huff.
Oliveto also railed about the reason Jenkins had been in the Douglas County Jail. State prison officials had allowed Jenkins to go on a furlough to Omaha to attend his grandmother's funeral in December 2009. Jenkins then attacked the Tecumseh prison guards who escorted him — and tried to escape.
“Somebody was stupid enough to let him go to the funeral in the first place,” Oliveto said.
Oliveto also said he tried to get Jenkins committed to a mental health institution. Jenkins' family made the same request to authorities in Tecumseh, where Jenkins was imprisoned.
However, prison officials transferred Jenkins to the state penitentiary in Lincoln before his July 30 release — and no civil commitment was sought.
Authorities have suggested that such a commitment wasn't sought because Jenkins is an antisocial psychopath. That's a personality disorder, not a treatable mental illness.
Beadle asked Oliveto: “Do you think he's a psychopath?”
Oliveto: “I know he is. ... He's worse. He's one of the most dangerous people I have ever been in contact with. He should have never been let out.”