Mental health report released Monday sheds new light on jail behavior of accused killer Daniel Butts

From The Oregonian, April 30, 2012

The heavily redacted mental evaluation report on Daniel Butts, the accused killer of Rainier Police Chief Ralph Painter, contains very little information not revealed in court during his aid and assist hearing earlier this year.

READ – the not-redacted Aid & Assist judgement from Columbia County Judge Ted Grove, February 2, 2012

But the report—released today by Columbia County Judge Ted Grove after The Oregonian filed motions a year ago that the reports be made public—does shed new light on the 22-year-old man’s behavior in the Columbia County Jail. [This document was not made available to the public beyond The Oregonian – and not posted by The Oregonian.]

Butts was arrested on Jan. 5, 2011 after police say he wrested Painter’s gun away and then shot the chief in the head at a Rainier stereo shop.

Daniel Armaugh Butts March 23 2012

Daniel Armaugh Butts March 23 2012

A Columbia County grand jury indicted Butts on nine counts of aggravated murder, which could carry the death penalty, and other charges including attempted aggravated murder, robbery, burglary, theft and unauthorized use of a vehicle.

Last December and again in January, Judge Grove heard expert testimony from mental health professionals, as well as police officers, on Butts’ behavior before and after the shooting.

The hearings weren’t held to determine Butts’ mental state at the time of the shooting, but whether he is able to assist his defense attorneys during a trial. In the past year, Butts was evaluated several times both at the Columbia County Jail and at the state hospital in Salem, where he stayed for 20 days last July.

Grove ruled that Butts could assist his attorneys in his defense, saying he believed Butts was “gaming the system.”

But earlier this month Grove ruled that Butts be returned to the Oregon State Hospital in Salem for additional mental health evaluation. Grove made the decision during a hearing on a writ of habeas corpus filed by Butts’ attorneys, said Columbia County District Attorney Steve Atchison.

The writ stemmed from the treatment of a self-inflicted wound Butts suffered when he stabbed himself in the forehead with a pencil in January. The wound became infected, but Butts refused treatment, officials said.

While by all accounts Butts was a difficult inmate, almost a year to the day after he was arrested for Painter’s murder, jailers observed Butts standing near the toilet in his cell “striking himself in the head, neck and face.”

The officers ordered him to stop, but when they approached Butts he ran and slid under his bunk. When he refused to come out, officers shocked him with a Taser. During the scuffle, officers fell on the “slicked up floor” as Butt kicked at them. He was stunned again, handcuffed and stunned a third time.

Despite their efforts, Butts continued to resist. He was then placed in a restraint chair, and again “he remained uncompliant,’’ according to a letter from Dr. Jerry Larsen contained in the report to Butts attorneys, Patrick Sweeney and Dianna Gentry. Officers placed a “spit hood” over Butts head to keep him from spitting at the officers.

Corrections deputies noted three pencils stained with blood. The following day, paramedics examined the wounds and told officers they were superficial.

According to another jailer, during an interaction with Butts he stuck his penis in the pass through of the cell door, and “almost threw it towards me.”

Several days after he was shocked with a stun gun, Butts (who by then had been moved to special holding cell) asked to be returned to his regular cell.

An officer asked him if wanted to hurt himself and he told them no. When the officer told Butts he was concerned that he might have to use his Taser on Butts, Butts said “That will not be necessary. I’ll be good.”