Accused cop-killer Daniel Butts heads back to mental hospital

Accused cop-killer Daniel Butts heads back to mental hospital

ST. HELENS, Ore. -- Accused cop-killer Daniel Butts is not mentally competent to go to trial, a judge decided on Wednesday.

The decision delays proceedings against Butts, 23, indefinitely and sends him back to a state mental hospital until he is able to assist in his own defense.

If after three years, the Kalama, Wash., man is still is not competent, Butts will be evaluated again.

Butts is charged with murdering Rainier, Ore., Police Chief Ralph Painter in January 2011.

During a hearing in St. Helens, Ore., on Wednesday, Butts appeared reclusive, putting his hands over his ears and eyes with his head down on the table.

Butts has been in minimal communication with his doctors and attorneys, and barely talks, only sharing his basic needs.

Judge Ted Grove noted Butts’ bizarre behavior – how Butts has focused on childlike desires, such as playing basketball and eating pizza and cheeseburgers, instead of the charges at hand.

“Such childlike behavior is identified with schizophrenia,” the judge said.

His lawyers said in hearings last week that Butts is psychotic and won't meet with them or help make decisions. Prosecutors argue Butts is faking illness.

Grove said Butts must begin accepting medical treatment in order for him to be competent to stand trial.

Butts’ attorneys said if there is a trial, they want it moved out of Columbia County.

After the hearing, Painter’s widow, Amy, said she wasn’t surprised with the judge’s ruling, “but we were hoping to move forward today.”

“We want to see this through for Ralph’s sake,” Amy Painter said. “I know it’s what he would do for any one of us.”