WICHITA, Kansas – The man accused of the BTK serial killings (search) waived his right to a preliminary hearing Tuesday, an acknowledgment that the state has enough evidence to go to trial.
During the hearing, which lasted only a few minutes, Dennis Rader (search) calmly answered "Yes, sir" to questions from Sedgwick County District Judge Gregory Waller about whether he wanted to waive the hearing and whether he understood his rights.
Prosecutors presented no evidence against Rader, who neatly dressed in a gray suit and wearing leg restraints.
"Considering the low burden of proof, we didn't think there would be anything new that would come out anyway, so we didn't think there was much to be gained by having a preliminary hearing," said Rader's attorney, Steve Osburn.
After the brief hearing, District Attorney Nola Foulston told reporters: "Of course there is a certain type of disappointment because it prolongs the agony for the public to know. ... And as long as the public doesn't know, it places us in a position where we are out here telling you, 'I'm sorry, I can't tell you.'"
Rader, formerly a city ordinance enforcement officer for suburban Park City, was arrested Feb. 25 and is charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder. Rader, 60, will enter a plea at his arraignment, set for May 3.
The BTK strangler, whose nickname stands for "Bind, Torture, Kill," had been suspected of eight torture deaths beginning in 1974, but since Rader's arrest authorities have linked two more victims to the serial killer. Prosecutors can't seek the death penalty because the crimes were committed before 1994, when Kansas passed its capital punishment law.
Osburn said after the hearing that Rader would plead not guilty at his arraignment. An arraignment is normally held right after a preliminary hearing, but Osburn said he asked that it be continued to give the defense more time to prepare.
Osburn said he did not foresee Rader pleading innocent by reason of insanity and did not anticipate a plea bargain. Defense attorneys have not decided whether to seek a change of venue for the trial.
In a preliminary hearing, prosecutors need only to prove that they have enough evidence to show probable cause that a crime was committed and that the defendant did it.
Also at the hearing, the judge granted a prosecutor's motion to add more witnesses, but that motion was kept under seal, as have been almost all court papers in the case.
Several family members of the victims were in the courtroom and in an overflow room watching by video feed. Rader's family was not in the courtroom, Osburn said.
Rader, who is being held on a $10 million bond, is no longer secluded from other prisoners, Osburn said. Rader has been sheltered from much of the media coverage.
"All things considered he is doing OK," he said.