Photo Courtesy: North Platte Bulletin
A Nebraska man who was found not guilty by reason of insanity in the murders of six people in 1975 will remain in custody, for now.
Tuesday, a Lincoln County District judge heard testimony for the release for 67-year-old Erwin Charles Simants.
Simants was initially convicted and sentenced to death for the shooting deaths of six members of the Henry Kellie family in 1975. Then 33-year-old Audrey Brown as the last surviving family member. Now at 75 years-old, she has yet to miss a trial, or the yearly hearings. She was at Tuesday morning's proceedings.
"I need to be here so that everyone remembers that there was a family involved in this, and that I'm alive and I care about them," said Brown.
The verdict was overturned on appeal and Simants was found not guilty by reason of insanity in 1979. He was taken to the Lincoln Regional Center.
The Lincoln County District judge will be reviewing testimony for the next 30 days. A decision on Simants' release will be made by Oct. 24.
The defense attorney asked the court to consider Simants' release.
"He is no longer mentally ill, and I think that is supported by the evidence," said Lincoln County Public Defender, Robert Lindemeier. "All four doctors testified in their depositions and also submitted in their reports that he is no longer mentally ill."
Attorney Rebecca Harling argued while doctors have said Simants is not considered mentally ill, there is concern over his release. Doctors say triggers like drugs, alcohol, and sexual stimuli may play a factor in future violent attacks. According to reports, Simants was under the influence when he killed the family.
Simants has a yearly review of his case. Previously, no judge has ruled in favor of his release.