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Prosecuting Attorney

Posted on: September 13, 2017

Agreement to halt release of accused murderer from Western State Hospital

TACOMA, WA – Today, Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist thanked officials at the Department of Social and Health Services and Governor Jay Inslee’s office for listening to community concerns related to the conditional release of Lawrence Butterfield from Western State Hospital.

Butterfield was charged with murder in 2010 for stabbing his roommate to death. Butterfield told the arresting officer he had been hearing voices that told him to kill his roommate. The murder charge was dismissed when he was found incompetent to stand trial. The Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office refiled the murder charge three times, and each time Butterfield was found incompetent to stand trial.

“Mr. Butterfield has serious, well-documented mental health issues. He is not well enough to be held accountable for murder and he is not well enough to be safely released into our community,” said Lindquist.

On September 1, 2017, Prosecutor Lindquist sent a letter to Governor Inslee asking that Butterfield’s proposed conditional release be stopped and reconsidered. Subsequently, WSH informed the Prosecutor’s Office that it had withdrawn Butterfield’s proposed conditional release.

In the letter, Lindquist cited reports from WSH that Butterfield was hearing voices and was a “moderate to high risk for future dangerous behavior.”

By statute, WSH must notify the Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office when seeking to modify Butterfield’s commitment order.

“We appreciate the communication with officials at Western State and will work with them on this and any other proposed release of residents that potentially impact the safety of our communities in Pierce County,” said Lindquist.

Court records show in 1979 Butterfield was charged with assault with intent to kill in Lewis County and was found not guilty by reason of insanity and committed to WSH in 1980. In 2002, WSH conditionally released Butterfield into Pierce County.

For more information, please contact James Lynch at (253) 798-6265, jlynch@co.pierce.wa.us.

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