Insanity plea wasn't an option for Rader

06/28/2005 12:00 AM

03/27/2012 11:01 AM

The woman who may have been the closest to Dennis Rader the past four months supported his guilty plea Monday.

Sarah McKinnon, the public defender who visited Rader every day in the county jail, knew an insanity defense wasn't an option. Attacking the police investigation would be futile, she said, even with three decades of dead-end leads.

Police had Rader's DNA from the BTK crime scenes, dating back to 1974. And they had Rader's own words about the crimes.

It was a solid case. There was nothing left for Rader to do but plead guilty.

"He stepped up and took responsibility for what he did," McKinnon said.

Rader had talked about a plea since his arraignment in May, his lawyers said following Monday's hearing. But there was still work for the defense to do before that happened.

They wanted Rader psychologically evaluated. Because the killings took place from 1974 to 1991, laws allowing an insanity defense were less restrictive.

Rader received evaluations from five mental health professionals with Cambridge Forensic Consultants in Massachusetts.

"We feel we had the best in the business," McKinnon said.

McKinnon wouldn't discuss the specifics of Rader's evaluations but said it led to one conclusion.

"We determined it (insanity) was not a viable defense," McKinnon said.

McKinnon and Rader discussed his options, including a defense that faced solid police work.

"As far as the investigation goes, there's not a whole lot that's questionable," McKinnon said.

Rader's case is ending like most. About nine out of 10 people charged with crimes end up entering pleas. Most plead guilty.

"I hope people see from this that our system of justice is valuable, and the job we do as defense attorneys is very important," McKinnon said.

McKinnon and Jama Mitchell and Steve Osburn — the other defense team members — still have work to do, however.

Despite Rader's admission and his willingness to face the stiffest penalties available under the law, prosecutors still want to present testimony at sentencing.

District Attorney Nola Foulston said Sedgwick County District Judge Greg Waller and the community need more information about Rader and the BTK killings.

Rader offered a stipulation, a legal agreement, to accept life with no possibility of parole for 40 years, which is the sentence Foulston is seeking.

"What he was saying," McKinnon said, "is, 'Ms. Foulston, it's not necessary to spend the time and effort, the emotional toll and money to continue this. I am agreeing to it, so it's not necessary to do this.' "

Waller said he will hear arguments on presenting evidence at sentencing Aug. 17.

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