A man committed to the Lincoln Regional Center and still considered mentally ill and dangerous five years after killing his wife in south Lincoln has been granted supervised outings in the community. 

Last month, Lancaster County District Judge John Colborn gave Kent Burklund that privilege for the first time since he was committed to the state psychiatric hospital after being found not responsible by reason of insanity in 2015. 

Lincoln police found Bettina Burklund dead, her head severed, after going to the Burklunds'  home in southeast Lincoln on April 21, 2014, to check on her because she hadn't gone to work that day. 

They arrested Kent Burklund a short time later, and family members told investigators they had grown concerned about signs Kent Burklund was showing of extreme paranoia, but he resisted attempts to get help.

Burklund told investigators he was afraid of his wife and believed gang members had put date-rape drugs into his drinks and poisoned him with methamphetamine, according to court records.

State and defense experts agreed that Burklund was insane when he killed his wife, and Colborn acquitted him of a second-degree murder charge in October 2015 before committing him to the forensic unit of the Regional Center. 

At the center, Burklund responded well to his treatment, his attorney told Colborn during annual assessments of Burklund's need to remain in the psychiatric hospital. 

After a court review in July, Colborn ruled Burklund may be allowed off the center's secured grounds for "therapeutic activities" so long as he is GPS-monitored and supervised by at least one staff member, according to an order.

Previously, Burklund was only allowed into the community if he was attending doctor's appointments or being taken to a hospital, according to court documents.

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Reach the writer at 402-473-2657 or rjohnson@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSRileyJohnson.


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