Mother of trooper murderer receives up to 5 years in prison

June 17, 2014

tammi_spofford_trooper_butterfield_sentencingJudge denies plea agreement recommendation.

By Rob Alway. Editor-in-Chief. 

LUDINGTON — Tammi Spofford, mother of the man who killed Michigan State Police Trooper Paul Butterfield, will spend up to five years in prison for her role in the murder of Michigan State Police Trooper Paul Butterfield. Spofford was sentenced today by 51st Circuit Court Judge Richard Cooper.

Cooper rejected a sentencing recommendation by Mason County Prosecutor Paul Spaniola and defense attorney Doulgas Stevenson of one year in jail. Instead he sentenced her to an 18 to 60 months sentence in prison.

Wearing a t-shirt, and trying to conceal herself from the media, Spofford appeared in the Mason County Courthouse this afternoon.

Butterfield’s fiance, Jennifer Sielski, addressed the court and requested that Judge Cooper sentence Spofford to the maximum sentence allowed by law, five years in prison.

“I think about what Tammi Spofford was doing in those moments while my fiancé was dying,” Sielski said. “Her goal was to help a murderer escape.”

Mason County Prosecutor Paul Spaniola recommended that Spofford spend one year in jail. Spaniola compared Spofford’s role in the crime to that of Eric Knysz’s wife, Sarah, who was sentenced to 2 to 5 years in prison for her involvement. Spaniola said Sarah Knysz could have prevented the murder and then later erased a cell phone and tried to conceal it in her bra. He said Spofford’s role was less significant.

Spofford’s attorney, Douglas Stevenson recommended that Spofford spend one year in jail but eventually be transferred from the Mason County Jail to the Lake County Jail and perhaps even be released early with an electronic monitor. He said Spofford needs to take care of her significant other, Pete Knysz (uncle to Eric Knysz) because of his health issues.

The probation department recommended Spofford receive a sentence of 7 months to 23 months.

“The court considers Tammi’s participation as a serious participation,” Judge Cooper said. “It considers that when she went to get gas (in Walhalla) she readily would have seen the blood splatter on the (truck).”

On May 6, Spofford entered a plea of no contest to accessory after the fact. She is the mother of Eric John Knysz, the man who murdered Butterfield. Knysz was sentenced to life in prison without parole and then killed himself shortly after arriving in prison.

Spofford,  50, of 8124 W. Eight Mile Road, Irons, was arrested last fall for her involvement after Knysz killed Trooper Butterfield on North Custer Road in Free Soil Township. She was also charged with unlawfully driving away a motor vehicle, a charge that was dropped as part of a plea agreement with the prosecutor.

Spofford’s criminal history includes two domestic violence charges and a suspended drivers license violation and several Department of Natural Resources code violations. Spaniola called her criminal history “a significant record.” Judge Cooper stated it was clear that Spofford has an obvious disregard for the law.

Spofford has the right to file a motion to withdraw the plea agreement she made with the prosecutor. She will be in the Mason County Jail until her attorney files the motion or will be sent to prison.

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