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Butts back in jail after hospital stay

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Accused cop killer Daniel A. Butts kept his head down and, often, his fingers in his ears at an 'aid and assist' hearing in March.Accused cop killer Daniel A. Butts is back in the Columbia County Jail after being released from the Oregon State Hospital.

Butts was committed to the hospital earlier this year after Columbia County Circuit Judge Ted Grove ruled he was mentally unfit to stand trial in the shooting death of Rainier Police Chief Ralph Painter, whom Butts is accused of killing in 2011.

But last week, Grove decided to allow Butts to be returned to jail. Columbia County Sheriff Jeff Dickerson said Butts arrived at the Columbia County Jail Thursday morning, June 20.

“I was arguing that he probably shouldn’t stay at the hospital, because they were saying they didn’t have a reason to treat him,” Columbia County District Attorney Steve Atchison said.

Butts, of Kalama, Wash., was sent to the Oregon State Hospital after repeatedly refusing attempts at treatment while incarcerated at the Columbia County Jail. However, according to Atchison, Butts was not medicated at the hospital in Salem and continued to refuse all efforts to treat him.

“He still said no,” said Atchison. “And in the meantime, the hospital determined, ‘Well, he doesn’t need the medication anyway, so we’re not going to forcibly give him medication that we don’t believe, medically, he needs.’”

A spokeswoman for the Oregon State Hospital said she could not comment on the condition or whereabouts of current and former patients due to privacy laws.

But Rebecca Gipson-King noted, “We aren’t going to discharge patients before they are ready to be discharged. We always do what’s in the best interest of the patient.”

While Butts is out of the hospital for now, he has not yet been declared mentally competent to stand trial.

In the meantime, it is possible Butts could be transferred into the custody of Multnomah County, Dickerson said. Such a transfer would likely depend on whether Multnomah County is willing to accept Butts in exchange for another inmate as part of a swap deal, he added.

The potential swap is a reaction to claims from Butts’ defense team that the accused murderer is receiving unfair treatment at the Columbia County Jail, an allegation that was made prior to Butts’ transfer to the state hospital.

Butts’ next hearing date is set for July 10 at the Columbia County Courthouse.