Thursday, April 24, 2014


A hearing Wednesday in St. Helens may determine whether Daniel Butts is mentally able to assist in his defense at a murder trial in the shooting death of Rainier Police Chief Ralph Painter.

Lawyers for the 23-year-old Kalama, Wash., man say he doesn't communicate and can't help them, but Columbia County prosecutors disagree and say the case should go to trial. Butts could face the death penalty if convicted.

The  hearing is expected to take two days and Butts may be required to wear a stun belt in court to prevent disruptions. At one hearing last year a judge ruled Butts was faking mental illness.

Painter was shot to death in January 2011 while responding to a disturbance call in a stereo shop

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