Judge will issue new ruling on whether Daniel Butts, suspect in Rainier police chief murder case, is mentally fit to go to trial

The decision over whether or not Daniel Butts will stand trial for the 2011 murder of Rainier Police Chief Ralph Painter could take weeks.

Columbia Circuit Judge Ted Grove is expected to issue a ruling on Butts' ability to aid and assist in his own trial after reviewing video footage, along with documents and closing arguments from defense attorneys and state prosecutors, but the conclusion could take three or four weeks to produce, says Carole Fischer, Grove's judicial assistant.

Daniel ButtsButts was arrested in January 2011 for shooting and killing Painter outside the Sound Authority car audio shop in Rainier. Police and Butts' attorneys began to question the suspect's mental state after a series of incidents in jail, in which Butts gave himself a head injury using a pencil and was noted as being uncooperative with authorities. He was later transferred to Oregon State Hospital, where he has been receiving treatment for symptoms of schizophrenia, doctors said in court last week.

A series of court hearings was held last week to hear expert and witness testimony about Butts' psychological condition since his arrest more than seven years ago.

Grove is expected to review the testimony, along with reports, to make a determination about Butts' mental health. The judge's decision comes nearly five years after he ruled in 2013 that Butts wasn't capable of aiding and assisting his defense attorneys.

A doctor with Oregon State Hospital testified last week that Butts has shown improvement and a greater "attachment to reality" since he first arrived at the state facility, but noted he still takes medication and reports hearing voices in his head.

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