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Judge to make Butts decision this month

by: Bill Wagner HEARING — Daniel Butts stares upward during a Dec. 21 hearing regarding his mental fitness next to one of his lawyers, Diana Gentry.

A court ruling is expected next week that should determine if murder suspect Daniel Butts is mentally competent to stand trial for allegedly killing Rainier Police Chief Ralph Painter last January.

Columbia County Circuit Court Judge Ted Grove has presided over days of testimony and arguments regarding Butts' mental condition in recent weeks. Grove must decide if Butts is able to aid and assist in his own defense. If he is, criminal proceedings will continue.

Butts' attorneys say the suspect needs greater care to treat his mental illnesses.