Convicted Killer Avoids His Fate After Judge Delays Sentencing

By: Melina Matthes

OMAHA (kptm) - The family of a teen girl murdered by her boyfriend nearly two years ago will have to wait even longer to get closure.

The teen convicted of the killing was supposed to be sentenced Wednesday, however it's going to be another 90 days to find out what his punishment will be.

Wednesday in court the judge delayed sentencing for Justin Lenz. He said, Lenz needs to undergo a mental health evaluation.

The family says it's difficult to hear. "It's just very frustrating, we just want to have this part of it done so that we can move on with our lives," Michelle Koontz said.

Douglas county attorney Don Kleine said accepting the motion to send a convicted killer to get a mental evaluation is ridiculous. He believes it was the defenses way of delaying the case.

He said Justin Lenz has been evaluated; he's even had a psychiatrist talk with him. "It's very upsetting. I feel for this family here that they're again, having to wait. The loss they've suffered is immeasurable, they have to deal with the sentence everyday of living everyday without their child and they want some closure to this and they want this to be done regardless of the sentencing."

16-year-old Melanie Koontz was found dead under the bridge near 78th and Blondo in May of 2012.

Investigators say Lenz admitted to a friend that he had sex with her before strangling her.

He claimed he didn't like the life choices she was making.

Investigators believe he used his belt to kill her. "He's entered a plea, he's been convicted. We all come here for sentencing today, the family's here they're prepared for this and now to ask for a 90 day evaluation of the defendant when there's been pre-sentence investigation done, is improper."

"It's time for closure, it's time to end it and let them go on with their lives. Now they just have another 90 days of waiting, wondering and everything else," Russ Zeeb said.

Justin Lenz was originally charged with first degree murder and use of a weapon to commit a felony, however he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge, second-degree murder.

Lenz will spend 90 days in Lincoln. At this time, the next scheduled court date is still unknown. He is facing a minimum of 20 years and up to life in prison.

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