Man accused of shooting Rainier police chief pleads not guilty

Man accused of shooting Rainier police chief pleads not guilty

ST. HELENS, Ore. – The man accused of shooting and killing Rainier's beloved police chief, Ralph Painter, pleaded not guilty to the 24 charges against him Wednesday.

The arraignment was held in the same courtroom where Daniel Butts' first arraignment was scheduled more than a year ago. It was canceled when Butts became disruptive.

What followed was a number of hearings and delays to determine whether he was mentally competent to stand trial. And during some of those hearings, Butts showed more erratic behavior, appearing to pray and often remaining fixated on an iPad he had with him.

On Wednesday, Butts didn’t say a word during the arraignment. He did appear to be shaking when he first walked into the room. But for the most part he had his head down with his hands in his lap.

The Columbia County District Attorney Steve Atchison read each of the 24 charges out loud and Butts’ attorney entered a not guilty plea on his behalf.

The district attorney said a trial could still be a way off.

Painter’s wife and family were at the arraignment but declined to speak to reporters.

Butts’ father, Mikel Butts, said his attorney had advised him not to say anything.

Last week, the judge in the case said he believed Butts was faking his erratic behavior and ruled he was fit to stand trial.

Butts is accused of shooting Painter after gaining control of Painter's gun during a struggle. Painter had responded to a disturbance call at a car stereo shop in January 2011.

If convicted, Butts could face the death penalty.

KATU News reporter Meghan Kalkstein contributed to this report.