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Man accused of trying to stab officer with spike pleads not guilty

Douglas Charles Butler, who was shot in the chest by a Martinsburg police officer during the altercation, was committed to a psychiatric hospital for three years

March 21, 2013|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthewu@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — A man accused of attempting to stab a police officer with a railroad spike in March 2012 pleaded not guilty Thursday by reason of insanity to one count of attempted malicious assault in Berkeley County Circuit Court.

Douglas Charles Butler, 45, who was shot in the chest by a Martinsburg police officer during the altercation, was committed by 23rd Judicial Circuit Judge John C. Yoder to a psychiatric hospital in Weston, W.Va., for three years, according to Berkeley County Prosecuting Attorney Pamela Games-Neely.

“At the time of the event, he was not criminally responsible,” Games-Neely said after what was to be a pre-trial hearing Thursday.

Butler previously was offered the opportunity to enter the insanity plea, but rejected it and indicated he wished to proceed to trial. The trial was set to begin Tuesday.

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Games-Neely said Thursday that evaluators deemed Butler to be competent to enter the plea.

Butler’s hospital commitment could be extended beyond three years, which was the maximum allowed in the criminal case, through a separate civil action if it is determined that he is a danger to himself or others, Games-Neely said.

The court is expected to receive reports from the hospital regarding Butler’s condition during his commitment, according to Games-Neely.

In the confrontation with Martinsburg police, Butler was shot after he walked toward the officer with a railroad spike in his right hand, raised above his head in a stabbing position, according to court documents. The officer told the man several times to drop the spike and to get on the ground, but he did not follow orders, according to police.

After being shot, police said the man stopped, turned away from the officer and began walking away, according to court records.

Another officer then ordered the man to the ground, but he refused, police said in court documents. After being shocked with a stun gun, the man fell to the ground, but he continued to disregard officers’ commands, and the weapon was fired several more times before he complied, court documents said.

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