June 27, 2005

Accused serial killer to face Kansas court

WICHITA, Kan. (Reuters) - A 60-year-old suspected of beingthe serial murderer who called himself "bind, torture and kill"was due back in a Kansas court on Monday for the scheduledstart of his trial on charges he killed 10 people.

Dennis Rader faces 10 counts of first-degree murder forkillings that occurred between 1974 and 1991 and spread terrorthrough the Wichita area.

Whether his trial would actually get under way wasuncertain. Court officials have said no jury pool had beenformed in advance and there was speculation Rader might changehis plea or ask for a mental evaluation first.

The former dogcatcher and active church member was last inSedgwick County District Court on May 3 for an arraignment, atwhich he did not make a plea. Judge Gregory Wallerautomatically entered 10 not guilty pleadings for Rader and setthe trial date.

Police arrested Rader in February after a 31-year manhunt.

Over the years, the person who did the killings left notesand packages under the name "BTK" for "bind, torture, kill,"taunting police and giving details about the slayings.

The killer's first victims were a husband and wife andtheir two children, the last a 62-year-old grandmother.

BTK resurfaced last year after years of silence, offeringmore clues in various correspondence, and investigators havesaid it appears he wanted to be caught.

Rader would not face the death penalty if convicted becauseKansas did not adopt capital punishment until 1994, after thelast known BTK crime was committed.

But he could face sentences of 15 years to life on nine ofthe 10 counts he faces. The last count could be punishable byat least 40 years without parole under a change made in the lawthe year the last crime was committed.