Kansas City, Mo. One after another, witnesses in Keith Nelson's penalty trial took the stand and told the same story: that Nelson would repeatedly share fantasies of sex, violence and murder.
And at least once before he kidnapped and killed 10-year-old Pamela Butler, one witness said Monday, Nelson tried to act on his fantasies.
Michanne Mattson, a former medical student at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, testified how Nelson used a knife and handcuffs as he tried to kidnap her from the parking lot of her apartment building. But she resisted, yelling and kicking at a nearby car, hoping to set off its security alarm.
"Why did you yell?" asked Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Miller.
"For my parents," Mattson replied. "I didn't want them wondering what happened to me."
Jurors, who will decide whether Nelson gets the death penalty or life without parole for Pamela's killing, also heard from several of Nelson's friends and co-workers one of whom said he didn't believe Nelson's talk of wanting to kidnap, torture and kill a young girl.
"I didn't take him seriously," James Shannon Robinson testified. "If you were going to do something like that, you wouldn't tell a total stranger who you had just met."
Nelson pleaded guilty last month to kidnapping Pamela from near her Kansas City, Kan., home, taking her to Grain Valley, Mo., and strangling her with a length of speaker wire.
On Sept. 29, 1999, Robinson testified, Nelson confided that he wanted to kidnap a young girl, torture her, rape her, electrocute her and then kill and bury her.
Steve Underwood, a Nelson acquaintance, testified that two hours before Pamela's kidnapping, he bumped into Nelson.
"He was hyper, he was anxious," Underwood said. "He said he knew where a 14-year-old girl was. He said right now was the time to go get her, rape her and kill her."