- The Washington Times - Monday, April 18, 2005

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The man accused of terrorizing Wichita for years — the reputed BTK serial killer — has a preliminary trial this week that may provide the public with a fuller look at the state’s case against him.

Dennis Rader, a former city ordinance enforcement officer for Park City, will be brought into a courtroom under tight security tomorrow for his preliminary hearing on 10 counts of first-degree murder.

The self-named BTK strangler — the initials stand for ?bind, torture, kill? — had been suspected in eight deaths beginning in 1974, but since Mr. Rader’s arrest authorities have linked two more victims to the serial killer. Prosecutors can’t seek the death penalty because all the crimes Mr. Rader is charged with were committed before 1994, when Kansas passed its capital punishment law.

The preliminary hearing is expected to take three to 10 days, said Georgia Cole, spokeswoman for the Sedgwick County District Attorney’s Office. ?We have to present evidence on each crime.?

The court has sealed almost every order and motion filed in the case. Still, at least some evidence likely to be presented at the hearing probably has been revealed in the press.

BTK’s penchant for taunting police and media with cryptic messages is thought to have led to Mr. Rader’s arrest.

Investigators went to his church in Park City, Christ Lutheran, because a computer diskette that BTK sent to a TV station apparently contained an electronic imprint from a computer at the church, said Mr. Rader’s pastor, Michael Clark.

Among the most incriminating pieces of evidence expected to be presented is DNA that investigators collected from murder scenes. Gov. Kathleen Sebelius has said that DNA samples linked Mr. Rader to the killings.

Mr. Rader’s attorney, Steve Osburn, did not return a call seeking comment Friday, but previously has said Mr. Rader will plead not guilty. Mr. Rader’s attorneys could still waive the preliminary hearing, acknowledging that the state has enough evidence to go to trial. In that case, Mr. Rader would be arraigned immediately, and no evidence would be presented.

Mr. Rader’s bail is set at $10 million.

Court officials are bracing for an onslaught of public attention.

?It is going to be something like we have never seen in Wichita before. … Every conceivable media outlet — from the very high end to the tabloid shows — are coming,? said Kirk Longhofer, the court’s media coordinator.

The courtroom has only 46 seats, and many relatives of the 10 murder victims and most reporters will have to watch by video from another room, according to the district attorney’s office.

Sheriff Gary Steed would not discuss security for Mr. Rader’s court appearances.

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