On Wednesday, August 17, 2005 the sentencing of BTK Strangler Dennis Rader begins. This will not be a run-of-the-mill court proceeding, but represents the very first time prosecutors will be able to voice their case against him. This will be a very dramatic time, filled with the testimony of victim families and the impact BTK had on their lives. We've already heard some of Dennis Rader's version of what he did to his victims; prosecutors say his version is sanitized and leaves out many of the uglier details of his crimes. Rader's version was shocking enough for many, but this will be the proverbial rest of the story.
Fortunately we will be allowed to see this all unfold ourselves, thanks to television, the Internet and Court TV. Court TV will be covering the sentencing, expected to last up to three days, both on its cable channel and uninterrupted on its Internet outlet Court TV Extra. Also on the Internet, Wichita's channel 12 promises to stream it live via its website KWCH.com. Kansas viewers will be able to watch it live on local stations KSN, KAKE and KWCH, plus their Kansas subsidiaries. Viewers are warned that the testimony at times will be graphic.
Dennis Rader evaded a preliminary hearing and a trial by pleading guilty, but was quizzed by Judge Greg Waller over some of what he did while committing his 10 known murders. He coolly responded by describing a version mentioning the strangulations and how he engineered the scenarios, but otherwise talking of how he calmed and comforted his victims before they died. He loosened Joe Otero's bindings because they were too tight, he said. Gave Shirley Vian a glass of water. Assured Nancy Fox and Dolores Davis that he was after something else other than murder, and so on.
The prosecutors say the evidence points to much more drastic scenarios, during which BTK intentionally tortured his victims psychologically and physically, even reviving some of them from strangulation so that he could strangle them all over again, perhaps a number of times in some cases. Over the years a great deal of information has piled up about what BTK did do, but due to the secrecy required by police investigations it was never permitted that all of it be made public. This will be the opportunity prosecutors have waited years for, the chance to describe in open court exactly what BTK was up to.