Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The BTK Story

Not Guilty

When BTK suspect, Dennis Rader, waived a preliminary hearing on April 19, 2005, in essence he was conceding that prosecutors have sufficient evidence to proceed with a full trial. 

On May 3 Dennis Rader, dressed in a dark suit, pleaded not guilty to the charge of murdering ten people in the BTK serial killings. 

Associated Press reported that Rader chose to stand mute during the brief arraignment and asked District Court Judge Gregory Waller to enter the plea for him. Waller entered the not guilty plea and set a trial date for June 27, although most expect the trial date to eventually be pushed back.

Although DA Nola Foulston indicted she would like to see the trial begin in the fall of 2005, the trial may not begin until 2006 because of the preparation time needed by the prosecution and defense.

Beefed-up security measures had been taken for Dennis Rader's May 3 arraignment and Rader had  been offered a bullet-proof vest. Once again media organizations from all over the country converged on Wichita for this event. Victims family members, such as Charlie Otero, came to hear the proceedings.

The Wichita Eagle reported that Foulston "will seek the Hard 40 penalty against Rader on one of the 10 counts against him. That means if convicted of that murder charge, Rader would serve at least 40 years before being eligible for parole. Rader is 60." One the victims, Dolores Davis, was killed in 1991 when the Hard 40 was still in effect in Kansas.

Judge Gregory Waller
Judge Gregory Waller

The astonishing amount of controversial secrecy by Wichita law enforcement through the decades in which the BTK case spanned was briefly continued in the courts with the sealing of key documents. On April 29, 2005, Sedgwick County District Court Judge Gregory Waller responded to papers filed by six media organizations petitioning the court to unseal documents in the BTK case.

In Kansas, the decision to seal those documents was supposed to have been made after a hearing. No hearing was held. DA Nola Foulston and Rader's legal team had requested that the documents be sealed so that pretrial publicity did not compromise any future trial. Judge Waller released all but the probable cause affidavit April 29.

One of the documents that was unsealed was the prosecution's list of 247 names of individuals who may be called to testify if Rader goes to trial. The list included investigators, people who knew Rader, relatives of the victims, and even journalists. Consistent with the quality of the law enforcement establishment that we have seen thus far in the 30-year-old case, the list of witnesses included at least five people who, according to the Wichita Eagle, are dead.

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