In a letter to Governor Inslee sent today, Senator Steve O’Ban, R-University Place, calls on the governor to halt plans by Western State Hospital (WSH) to release accused murderer Lawrence David Butterfield into the community of Lakewood. In the letter, O’Ban questions whether the state has employed sufficient safeguards, followed public safety review procedures, complied with victim notification requirements, or adhered to the legally appropriate placement settings for any potential release of Mr. Butterfield.
Butterfield was committed to WSH as criminally insane in 1977 following charges of assault with intent to kill. He was previously released but recommitted after being charged with the stabbing death of his roommate in 2010.
“There is no excuse to release into a community of vulnerable people a man with a history of extreme violence who is still dangerous, still having hallucinations, and still incompetent to stand trial,” said O’Ban. “We passed a law to stop Pierce County from being a dumping ground for dangerous people and we intend to see it enforced.”
The Pierce County Prosecutor’s office has been unable to prosecute Mr. Butterfield for the 2010 death of his roommate because doctors have determined him incompetent to stand trial. As late as July, Butterfield’s competency evaluation revealed he was still hearing voices. Hospital doctors have described Butterfield as a “moderate to high risk for future serious dangerous behavior” if he takes his medication and an even higher risk if he does not.
“Nothing about this case suggests a wise course of action would be to release this dangerous man into our community,” O’Ban explained. “I will continue working with city, county and agency officials as well as the rest of our state delegation to make sure this does not happen.”