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Judge denies release of Butts psychological records

by: Courtesy photo Daniel Butts

The psychological evaluation of Daniel Butts, accused of killing Rainier Chief of Police Ralph Painter, will remain sealed, despite the efforts of the state's largest newspaper.

A Circuit Court judge denied the Oregonian's motion to intervene in Butts' case on June 9. The motion would have effectively unsealed Butts' psychological evaluation.

Though Circuit Court Judge Ted Grove made a verbal ruling denying the motion, he has yet to complete a written order outlining his reasoning.

Motions to intervene are typically used to unseal documents that are of public interest. The tactic has never been used in the county, however.

'Since there's no record of that, there's no precedent for that in this county,' said District Attorney Stephen Atchison.

Butts' next court appearance will be on July 22 at a hearing to determine whether he's mentally fit to stand trial. He's accused of shooting Painter in the head after the police chief responded to a car-prowl call on Jan. 5.

At his arraignment Butts lashed out at his own attorneys. They later requested the psychological evaluation, believing Butts suffered from various psychological disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder and bipolar disorder.

Psychologists with the Oregon State Hospital have met with Butts twice since his arrest in January. His mental-health evaluation will serve as the basis for whether he's deemed fit to stand trial for aggravated murder, for which he could face the death penalty.