BTK Suspect Expected to Plead Not Guilty

More than 30 years after the first killings that began a reign of terror in this Midwest city, the man accused of being the BTK (search) strangler is expected to plead his innocence this week.

Dennis Rader (search), formerly an ordinance enforcement officer for suburban Park City, was arrested Feb. 25 and is charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder for deaths linked to the BTK strangler, whose nickname stands for "Bind, Torture, Kill."

An attorney for Rader, 60, told reporters after an earlier hearing that Rader would plead not guilty at his arraignment, scheduled for Tuesday.

Speculation about Rader's plea had been growing since rumors surfaced that Rader's wife, Paula, had sent him a letter. The couple's pastor, the Rev. Michael Clark (search), confirmed she sent a letter but said she did not divulge its contents to him.

Citing pastoral confidence, Clark also declined to say whether she had expressed any desire to him in the past that her husband avoid an embarrassing trial for the sake of his family. She has been in seclusion since her husband's arrest.

"Right now, Paula has to take care of herself in the best way she can," said Clark, pastor of Christ Lutheran Church in Wichita. "She needs to do more healing before she can stand on her feet."

Neither Rader's attorney, Steve Osburn, nor the spokesman for the public defender's office returned calls for comment, but Georgia Cole, spokeswoman for the Sedgwick County District Attorney's Office, said she expected Rader to plead not guilty.

Osburn has said in the past that he did not expect a plea bargain.

Rader waived his right earlier this month to a preliminary hearing, meaning prosecutors will not have to publicly reveal any of their case against Rader until trial.

Prosecutors can't seek the death penalty because all the crimes Rader is charged with were committed before 1994, when Kansas passed its capital punishment law.