Judge defers release of defendant's mental records

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ST. HELENS, Ore. (AP) -- A Columbia County, Ore., judge has changed his mind, saying the mental records of a Kalama, Wash., man accused of killing an Oregon police chief won't be released before a Nov. 17 competency hearing.

The Daily News reports (http://bit.ly/rQpLII ) that Circuit Court Judge Ted Grove previously said he'd release the documents a week before the hearing. On Tuesday, he said he's decided to wait in the interest of preserving Daniel Butts' right to a fair trial.

Butts is charged with aggravated murder in the Jan. 5 shooting death of 55-year-old Rainier, Ore., Police Chief Ralph Painter after the chief responded to a report of a suspicious person at a car stereo shop.

Butts' lawyers argued against release of the records. They contend he is psychotic and unable to aid his defense. The prosecution disagrees.

The 21-year-old was evaluated for 20 days at the Oregon state mental hospital in Salem. He also was evaluated by state doctors in the Columbia County Jail.

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Information from: The Daily News, http://www.tdn.com