LINCOLN — Eighteen years after John Joubert was executed for the kidnap-murders of two Sarpy County boys, a judge was asked Friday to publicly release two drawings Joubert made while in prison.
Mark Pettit, a former Omaha broadcaster who wrote about Joubert’s killings, said he wants to see the drawings so he can provide the final chapter to the 1983 slayings, which spread terror across the metropolitan area until Joubert’s arrest in January 1984.
“As a journalist, you don’t like to leave any stone unturned. I feel like this is the only stone unturned,” Pettit said.
He said he would consider using the drawings — which were described as “simplistic” and “sadistic” images of torture and stabbings of two boys — in a new edition of his book, “A Need to Kill.”
Pettit said he also would turn them over to forensic psychologists and law enforcement so they could get a further glimpse into the mind of a serial killer.
“He was sending a message that he’d kill more people if he got out of prison,” Pettit testified Friday. “Joubert left a road map, and we should be able to see it.”
Sarpy County Attorney Lee Polikov, who was chief deputy sheriff during the Joubert investigation, testified Friday that he would like to see the drawings and that releasing them would benefit law enforcement.
“The forensic value alone, to see what message he was sending, cannot be denied,” said Pettit’s attorney, Robert Creager of Lincoln.
But an attorney representing the state prison system said there was no societal value in releasing the drawings other than “morbid curiosity.”
Assistant Attorney General Kyle Citta said Joubert’s state of mind and his violent fantasies are already widely known.
“He just wants to sell more copies of his book,” Citta said of Pettit.
Under state law, materials kept in an inmate’s personal prison file are supposed to be confidential unless someone can demonstrate “good cause” to release them.
State Corrections Director Michael Kenney said prison officials routinely confiscate pornographic or sadistic magazines or drawings that are inflammatory and might detract from an inmate’s stability.
Such materials, he said, are either put into the inmate’s personal file — which mostly contains prison admission and disciplinary records — or put with an inmate’s personal possessions in storage. There is no set policy, Kenney said, adding that he did not know why staffers chose to put the drawings in the personal file.
Pettit, who now runs a marketing firm in Atlanta, published his book initially in 1990 based on several prison interviews with Joubert.
In February 1988, after learning that prison officials had confiscated drawings from Joubert nine months earlier, Pettit got a handwritten note from the condemned inmate permitting the “release” of the drawings so they could be shown to a psychiatrist.
“At this time there is no agreement for them to be used in the book he is writing, but that may change in the future. Thank you,” Joubert wrote.
Prison officials denied a request to release the drawings in 1988, citing the ongoing appeals in the case. They denied another request last year, saying Pettit had not shown a good reason for releasing them.
Pettit said he made the new request because he was updating his book, which was republished last year on the 30th anniversary of the slayings. He said history and education, not money, are his motives.
Lancaster County District Judge Stephen Burns took the case under advisement after hearing an hour of testimony. He is expected to rule in a couple of weeks.
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