PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Daniel Butts, the man who killed Rainier Police Chief Ralph Painter in 2011, changed his plea to guilty on Tuesday morning.
Butts pleaded guilty to 1 count of aggravated murder and 2 counts of attempted murder in the fatal shooting. He also entered a guilty except for insanity plea to several other charges.
The court found that at the time of the crime and currently, Butts suffers from schizophrenia — meaning he didn’t have the capacity to understand and conform to the law.
He was sentenced to prison in which he won’t be eligible for parole until he’s 70 years old. He will first go to a mental hospital and then – if and when he’s cleared – he will serve the remainder of his sentence at the Oregon Department of Corrections.
During the hearing, the wife of Chief Painter gave an emotional testimony.
“I choose to forget how Ralph died,” Amy said. “I choose to remember how he lived.” She also said their “lives were turned upside down that day. It was a living nightmare.”
Her son, Riley, also spoke at the sentencing.
“I had the best dad anyone could ever wish for, even though I had such a short time with him. You may have taken my dad’s life, but his spirit will still live.”
Butts has remained in custody since Jan. 5, 2011 when he shot and killed Painter, who was responding to a car audio store. Police said Butts was attempting to take a car that didn’t belong to him.
Butts was first sent to the Oregon State Hospital in 2013 after being found unable to aid and assist in his own defense. He was diagnosed with schizophrenia shortly after.
The Columbia County Circuit Court previously said Butts’ symptoms from schizophrenia had “greatly diminished” as a result of his current hospitalization and forced medication. In July 2018 he was found competent to stand trial.
Ralph Painter was with the Rainier Police Department for 25 years and left behind a wife and 7 children.