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A ruling on the competency of Daniel Butts, a Kalama man accused of murdering Rainier Police Chief Ralph Painter seven years ago, will be delayed a few weeks.

Butts’ mental competency hearing was held in Columbia County Circuit Court last week. Judge Ted Grove did not make an immediate decision, and he will not do so for several more weeks because he will be out of the office, according to the Court Clerk’s Office.

Grove earlier this year tentatively scheduled Butts for trial in early 2019, but whether it takes place hinges on whether Grove finds him mentally competent. If Butts is still found unfit, his trial likely would be postponed again.

Butts, who is now 28 or 29, has been in and out of Oregon State Hospital in Salem after he was ruled unfit to stand trial in 2013. He has been forcibly medicated in hopes that he will become mentally competent to assist in his own defense. Butts is accused of shooting Painter when the chief responded to a disturbance at the Sound Authority in Rainier in January 2011. Butts allegedly wrested Painter’s gun away, then shot the police chief, according to police and court documents.

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