The Free Press, Mankato, MN

December 27, 2012

Top 10 stories: No. 5: Nibbe admits to killing husband, sentenced to 17 years

By Robb Murray
Free Press Staff Writer

MANKATO —  It was a story that had it all.

Scandal. Heartbreak. Murder. Even some interest from a reality TV show.

Jennifer Nibbe’s crime, the murder of her husband, didn’t take place in 2012. But it qualifies for our top 10 list because its conclusion, the sentencing, did occur this year.

Nibbe was sentenced in Blue Earth County District Court  to 17 years in prison for the murder of her husband James Nibbe. Under the terms of her sentence, she will also serve 81/2 years of supervised release. She was given credit for 700 days already served.

She pleaded guilty to second-degree murder June 20, admitting that she shot and killed 26-year-old James Nibbe in 2011 in their house south of Lake Crystal without pre-meditation. The sentence requires her to pay $11,418 in restitution to Mankato Mortuary to cover funeral expenses for her husband. Blue Earth County District Court Judge Bradley Walker also issued a special order that she cannot benefit financially or physically from the death of her husband.

Why would the judge do that?

A cable television show that focuses on the rare cases where women become murderers will sent a crew to the Mankato area to interview people involved in the Jennifer Nibbe case.

A website describing the “Snapped” show on the Oxygen network says women are responsible for only about 7 percent of the 16,000 murders in the United States each year. The show has profiled dozens of those murders since it started in 2004.

A film crew hired by Jupiter Entertainment, the business that produces the show, traveled to Mankato to interview law enforcement officers who investigated the Aug. 31, 2011 murder.

For the record, James Nibbe’s family wasn’t happy with the sentence, which was set in a June plea deal that dismissed a first-degree murder charge and the possibility of a life sentence.

“You’re getting a slap,” Dennis Nibbe said in court at the hearing as he looked across the courtroom at the woman who loaded a shotgun, pointed it at his sleeping brother’s head and pulled the trigger. “Fifteen years is a slap in our face. It says ‘Justice Center’ on the front of this building, but what you are getting today is not justice. It’s an agreement between lawyers.”