Gov. Dave Heineman has harsh words for the state senator chairing a legislative committee investigating the release of serial killer Nikko Jenkins.
Heineman, during a news conference in his Capitol office, accused state Sen. Steve Lathrop of Omaha of already reaching a conclusion before the legislative committee he leads completes its investigation of the release of Nikko Jenkins.
“The chairman of an investigative committee should be impartial and open-minded,” Heineman told reporters. “Sen. Lathrop is biased and prejudiced. He’s already decided, pre-determined the outcome of this investigation.”
Heineman made the criticism during a discussion on the state “good time” law. The law automatically grants a prison inmate credit for good time served. Heineman backed a bill in the past legislative session that would have ended the good time law and replaced it with a law that allowed inmates to earn credit for good time served in prison.
The governor is critical of the Judiciary Committee for never letting the bill go to the floor for debate. An offshoot of that committee is now reviewing the steps the Department of Correctional Services took before releasing Nikko Jenkins from prison. Jenkins killed four after his premature release from prison.
The issue has become embroiled in politics with Republican Congressman Lee Terry criticizing his opponent, Sen. Brad Ashford, a Democrat and chairman of the Judiciary Committee, for not moving the bill.
Sen. Lathrop, who is chairing the committee in place of Ashford, came to Ashford’s defense during a news conference in Omaha last week. Lathrop also took a swipe at the bill supported by the governor. Lathrop stated he found Terry off-base to blame a problem in Corrections on Ashford and the Unicameral.
Heineman asserted Lathrop has already reach a conclusion that the Corrections Department is to blame, before the committee has concluded its investigation.
“He supposed to be impartial and open-minded and he’s clearly not.”
Lathrop declined a request for an interview. Instead, he released a statement.
“This is an extremely serious issue and there are families of victims who deserve to know what really happened. I plan to continue my job to find the truth in this matter. I am focused on the hearing Friday, and I will not be pulled into any attempt to turn the murders of four innocent people into a political issue – no matter what.”
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:45]