MANKATO — Dabbing at her eyes with a tissue and responding with mostly “yes” answers, Jennifer Nibbe said she doesn’t remember the details about the morning she held a shotgun to her sleeping husband’s head and pulled the trigger.
Nibbe, 35, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder Wednesday, admitting that she shot and killed 26-year-old James Nibbe in their house south of Lake Crystal without pre-meditation. With credit for the 21 months she’s served in jail since her arrest in September 2010, Jennifer Nibbe could be released from prison and placed on supervised release in about 15 years. Her total sentence is about 25 years and a sentencing hearing has been scheduled for July 9, the day a three-week trial had been scheduled to start.
A first-degree murder charge, which could have resulted in a life sentence with a conviction, was dismissed in a plea agreement that was reached late last week and discussed in District Court Judge Bradley Walker’s chambers Tuesday. Walker accepted the plea conditionally, saying he wanted to review evidence supporting the plea because Nibbe was saying she didn’t specifically remember committing the crime.
Nibbe called 911 the morning of Aug. 31, 2010, to report James Nibbe had been shot by an intruder. When law enforcement officers arrived, she told them the intruder also attacked her. She quickly became a suspect because investigators, looking at the muddy ground outside, found no evidence that anyone else had been near the house that morning. Jennifer Nibbe’s teenage son, Brady Brown, was at home, but they both told investigators he was sleeping and didn’t wake up until after the initial 911 call.
An investigation eventually led to Nibbe’s arrest about a week after the shooting. During an interview in jail, she told Bureau of Criminal Apprehension Special Agent Micheal Anderson and Blue Earth County Sheriff’s Detective Paul Barta that she had shot James Nibbe while he slept. She said, after taking a large amount of prescription-strength pain killers, she woke up during the early-morning hours, went to get a shotgun, loaded it and shot her husband in the head at close range after throwing a blanket over his shoulder.