- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 7, 2014

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - The family of an Omaha woman killed last August says in a lawsuit that the state shouldn’t have released from prison the man who killed her and three other people shortly after he got out.

Andrea Kruger’s family filed the lawsuit Tuesday after officials refused to pay a $7.5 million claim filed last fall. Under state law, a lawsuit can be filed if the state does not approve a claim for six months.

A state prison spokeswoman declined to comment on the lawsuit.

The 33-year-old Kruger was pulled from her car on Aug. 21 in northwest Omaha and shot four times by Nikko Jenkins. On April 16, the 27-year-old Jenkins was found guilty of killing Kruger and three other people after pleading no contest.

Authorities are seeking the death penalty in the criminal case.

Prosecutors say Jenkins fatally shot Kruger, Juan Uribe-Pena, Jorge Cajiga-Ruiz and Curtis Bradford in three separate ambushes within 10 days of his July 30 release from prison.

Police say Jenkins used a sawed-off 12-gauge shotgun loaded with deer slugs Aug. 11 to kill Cajiga-Ruiz and Uribe-Pena, whose bodies were found inside a pickup truck in southeast Omaha. Eight days later, he used a small-caliber gun to kill Bradford, a one-time prison acquaintance. Then, on Aug. 21, police say, Jenkins pulled Kruger from her SUV as she drove home from work and shot her four times before speeding off in her vehicle.

“We’re going to show that there was a shocking breakdown in a system that is designed to protect us from bad, violent people,” Lincoln attorney Vince Powers told the Omaha World-Herald.

The lawsuit said state prison officials “showed no common sense” in releasing Jenkins and thus placed Kruger at “great risk of harm” because the state knew Jenkins intended to kill people at random after his release.

A state ombudsman’s report released in January faulted the department for its handling of Jenkins‘ case. The ombudsman said prison officials failed to get Jenkins mental health treatment he needed and kept him in an isolation cell for most of the last two years of his sentence because of behavior problems.

Jenkins had begged corrections officials to commit him to a mental health institution before his release from prison.

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