Daniel Armaugh Butts is officially a patient, following his transfer to the Oregon State Hospital in Salem Monday.
The man accused of killing Rainier Police Chief Ralph Painter isn’t free, and still faces a trial at some point. But for now he’ll reside at the secure mental hospital after being found unable to assist his lawyers with his defense.
Butts was transferred out of the Columbia County Jail Monday, Sheriff Jeff Dickerson said. Butts will remain at the state hospital for the foreseeable future until doctors there decide he’s mentally competent to return for trial. The length of his stay depends on how — and if — he responds to treatment.
Butts’ transfer came after a three-day hearing last month in which his lawyers argued he is mentally impaired and refuses to speak with them. He also refuses to take the anti-psychotic medication a defense-paid doctor ordered for him more than a year ago.
Prosecutor Stephen Atchison — and three state doctors — told the judge that Butts is not mentally ill and could be faking symptoms to avoid trial and a possible death sentence.
Columbia Count Circuit Court Judge Ted Grove’s transfer order mandates that Butts be forcible medicated if necessary to ensure he takes the anti-psychotic medication. Grove said in his ruling that compelling Butts to take the medication is one way to answer whether he truly is schizophrenic.
Under state law, Butts can be held in treatment for up to three years. At the end of that time if he’s still not competent, Butts could be civilly committed or released. Atchison has said it’s also possible charges could be re-filed and says it’s highly unlikely Butts will ever be released without a trial.
Butts, 23, of Kalama is accused of killing Painter, 55, on Jan. 5, 2011 in Rainier. He’s also charged with shooting at responding officers and civilians in a nearby building.