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Butts mental health file to stay sealed for now

by: Archive photo TRIAL — Daniel Butts sits quietly at his January arraignment for aggravated murder.

Mental health evaluation records of the man accused of murdering Rainier Police Chief Ralph Painter will remain sealed until the suspect returns from observation at the state mental hospital next month.

Daniel A. Butts' attorneys have been fighting efforts from Oregon media outlets to release a preliminary report on Butts' mental health completed in April while he was jailed in Columbia County.

Judge Ted Grove agreed with the defense last month that those records should stay sealed under a previous protective order until Butts returns from the Oregon State Hospital.

Grove said Monday he plans to release the records to the public on Sept. 19, eight days before a hearing that will potentially determine if Butts is fit to stand trial.

Once the most recent evaluations are complete, the court will get a clearer picture of the 21-year-old's mental health, Grove said.

'We didn't want to release incomplete reports.'

Butts could face the death penalty if convicted of allegations he shot Painter in the head with the officer's gun during an altercation in Rainier on Jan. 5.