Convicted Killer Not Sentenced, Instead Gets Evaluation

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Convicted Killer Not Sentenced, Instead Gets Evaluation

By Jake Wasikowski. CREATED Jan 15, 2014

Omaha, NE -- A teen, who pleaded guilty to killing his ex-girlfriend 16-year-old Melanie Koontz, will wait months before he’s sentenced.  A judge accepted the defense motion to send Lenz to the Nebraska Department of Corrections for 90 days to get a mental evaluation, and see what rehab programs may help him.  Lenz was expected to be sentenced on Wednesday in Douglas County District Court and faced 20 years to life in prison.

It's been nearly two years since Melanie Koontz was taken from her family, and still no closure.

"It's just very frustrating, we just want to have this part of it done so that we can move on with our lives,” said Michelle Koontz, Melanie’s mother.

A friend found Melanie's body in Cole Creek River near 78th & Blondo St. in May 2012.  Prosecutors say Lenz and Koontz had sex before he strangled her with a belt.  He didn't like some life decisions she was making.

Lenz was initially charged with 1st Degree Murder, but pleaded guilty to 2nd Degree Murder in August 2013.

His attorney, Tom Riley, has long argued that Lenz has a mental capacity of a juvenile.  In court, he said Lenz needs incarceration, but also a lot of rehabilitation since Lenz was a juvenile when the crime was committed.  Riley also said it was important because of the recent state report revealing the scarce programs for Nebraska inmates.

Judge Russell Bowie said he didn't have the authority to tell corrections to give Lenz rehab, but granted the motion.

Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine said that was an argument for the corrections system, that Lenz has already been evaluated, and it was time for closure for everyone.

"We objected to it.  I think it's very insensitive, I think it's ridiculous at the last minute and this sentence has been continued before for the defendant,” Kleine explained.

It's likely that Lenz would've gotten an evaluation by the correctional system shortly after his sentencing.  He'll spend 90 days in Lincoln, and it's unclear when his next court date will be.