Trooper killer receives life sentence

April 8, 2014
Eric Knysz in court today. In the background is Paul T. Butterfield, father of Trooper Butterfield.

Eric Knysz in court today. In the background is Paul T. Butterfield, father of Trooper Butterfield.

More updates to come.

By Rob Alway. Editor-in-Chief. 

LUDINGTON — Eric John Knysz, the 20-year-old Irons resident who murdered Michigan State Police Trooper Paul Butterfield, will spend the rest of his life in prison. He was sentenced today in 51st Circuit Court to life in prison without parole.

For the first time, since Knysz murdered Trooper Butterfield on North Custer Road in Free Soil Township on Sept. 9, 2013, Knysz spoke publicly. He told the court that he was sorry for the pain he caused Trooper Butterfield’s family and the pain he caused his own family.

Paul T. Butterfield, father of Trooper Butterfield, addresses the court.

Paul T. Butterfield, father of Trooper Butterfield, addresses the court.

“I’m sorry. I never meant for any of this to happen,” he said.

Just moments before, Trooper Butterfield’s father, Paul T. Butterfield, addressed the court. He told Knysz that his apology would only mean that he was sorry that he got caught.

In February, a jury found Knysz guilty of first degree murder of a peace officer, the jury also found him guilty of felony firearms possession, carrying a concealed weapon and unlawfully driving away a motor vehicle.

On Sept. 9, 2013, Knysz shot Trooper Butterfield in the head moments after Butterfield pulled over the pickup truck Knysz was driving on North Custer Road north of Townline Road in Free Soil Township. Knysz’ wife, Sarah Knysz, 21, was in the pickup. At that time she was 6 months pregnant with the couple’s son. Sarah Knysz is serving a 2 to 5 year prison sentence for accessory to murder of a peace officer and unlawfully driving away a motor vehicle. Eric Knysz’ mother, Tammi Spofford, faces those same charges.

“The court in passing sentence observes that the state trooper was engaged in an ordinary traffic stop and that his approach to the defendant’s vehicle was not confrontational,” said Judge Richard Cooper. “In fact the trooper’s first words was to the effect of ‘an I help you,’ but before that sentence could not be completed, the defendant, who was carrying a revolver along side of him, held that revolver up… in speaking to the defendant and/or his partner, I am very struck that what we are dealing with is a person who is serving the public, doing his job, doing the job in a non-confrontational manner, but realizing that there is a risk in simply dealing with the public.”

Cooper went on to state that Knysz has stated his reasons for killing Butterfield was because he did not want to go to jail for selling weapons.

Attorney David Glancy points to Knysz, where to sign his sentencing.

Attorney David Glancy points to Knysz, where to sign his sentencing.

“It is of the utmost pain that our people who are out there to protect us end up being victimized for a reason that is very very selfish and very very much an individual who is out to look for himself.

“The court is also mindful that in seeing Sarah, who would be the wife of the defendant, that she came across as a person who is caught up in a relationship that had many features that were not healthy. But in effect the killing that occurred destroyed much of her future also.

“In conclusion, the anger level of the defendant and his choice of how to deal with a problem was such an extreme nature that the statutory consequence for killing a police officer is warranted.

Knysz also was sentenced on three other counts.

Count 2: Felony firearms: 2 years prison with 212 days credit for time served. To run consecutive with counts 1, 3 and 4.

Count 3: Concealed weapon: 3 years, 11 months to 7 years, 6 months. To run consecutive to count 2 and concurrent with counts 1 and 4.

Count 4: Unlawfully driving away a motor vehicle: 3 years, 11 months to 7 years, 6 months. To run consecutive to count 2 and concurrent to counts 1 and 3.

Updates to come.

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