The trial of Daniel Butts, who is accused of killing Rainier Police Chief Ralph Painter at a west Rainier retailer eight years ago, has been delayed again, according to news reports.
Butts, now 29, was scheduled to be tried in February on accusations that on Jan. 5, 2011, he seized Painter’s service revolver and shot him dead with it. Painter was on duty and had responded to reports of an attempted vehicle theft.
Butts, of Kalama, was arrested the day of the shooting and has been in custody while his lawyers and prosecutors have argued about his competency to stand trial.
In December, Columbia County Circuit Court Judge Ted Grove granted Butts’ defense lawyers’ request to delay the trial for more time to prepare, according to the St. Helens Chronicle. Defense attorneys sought that delay based on Butts’ mental impairments and the potential complications if the state seeks the death penalty against him, according to the Chronicle.
The prosecution objected on the basis that the defense has already had some ability to prepare for trial in the first six or seven years of the case.
Butts has been in and out of Oregon State Hospital in Salem after being ruled unfit to stand trial in 2013. Butts was ordered to be forcibly medicated in 2015 in hopes of restoring his competency to stand trial. Then, this past July, Judge Grove ruled that Butts had improved enough to be capable of assisting in his own defense at trial and set a trial date for this February.
It was not clear Monday whether a new date for the trial has been set.
Psychiatrists have testified that Butts may suffer from schizophrenia, and Grove found in July that “There is no seeming dispute that (Butts) suffers from schizophrenia.”