Wife of murder suspect expected to testify today

February 24, 2014
Sarah Knysz

Sarah Knysz

By Rob Alway. Editor-in-Chief.

Eric and Sarah Knysz

Eric and Sarah Knysz

LUDINGTON — The fifth day of the trial against Eric John Knysz, the 20-year-old Irons man accused of murdering Michigan State Police Trooper Paul Butterfield in Free Soil Township, continues this morning.

The trial began last Tuesday with a nearly 9-hour jury selection process. The first three witnesses called on Wednesday were the first people to assist Trooper Butterfield as he lay dying on the side of North Custer Road on Sept. 9, 2013. Those witnesses described how they tried to administer first aid to the 43-year-old northern Mason County resident who had been shot point-blank in the head.

Testimony then included personnel from Mason County Sheriff’s Office, Lake County Sheriff’s Office and Michigan State Police. Deputies from Mason County talked about the scene in Free Soil Township and how they also tried to help their colleague and friend from the MSP Hart Post. Lake County deputies testified about the apprehension of Tammi Spofford, mother of Eric Knysz, who was found driving the get-away vehicle on the Knysz family property in northwestern Lake County.

eric_knysz_butterfield_trooperMSP personnel included troopers, detectives, evidence technicians and forensic scientists who all talked about the process of gathering evidence at the scene to build a case against Eric Knysz.

Also testifying was the man who owned the white Pontiac Grand Prix Eric Knysz, his mother and his wife are all accused of stealing. Eric’s wife, Sarah, already pleaded guilty to that crime — more on her below.

On Friday, friends of Eric Knysz talked about how he stopped at their Wellston home asking to buy marijuana. At that time Eric said to the couple that he had killed a cop.

But, the climax of Friday’s testimony came from the arresting MSP detective who interviewed Eric Knysz while the then 19-year-old lie in a hospital bed. Knysz told the detective that he shot a cop.

In the United States, a confession to police does not get you an automatic conviction, however. Knysz would plead not guilty during a final conference in 51st Circuit Court, turning down a plea agreement from Mason County Prosecutor Paul Spaniola, which offered the maximum sentence of life in prison for first degree murder of a peace officer, along with the charges of felony firearms, carrying a concealed weapon and unlawfully driving away a motor vehicle.

Eric’s 21-year-old wife, Sarah, is expected to testify in court today, against her husband. In November, she pleaded guilty of accessory to murder of a peace officer, along with unlawfully driving away a motor vehicle. In December Judge Richard Cooper sentenced the then-9-month-pregnant Irons resident to 2 to 5 years in prison.

During her final conference, when she accepted the prosecutor’s plea agreement, she agreed to testify against her husband. She also told the details of what she witnessed on Sept. 9, 2013. See that story here. 

Court begins at 9:30 a.m. For frequent updates, check out www.facebook.com/MasonCountyPress or www.twitter.com/MasonCoPress #TrooperMurderTrial.


Major sponsor of MCP’s trial coverage is FloraCraft of Ludington: www.floracraft.com. Additional sponsorship by:

– Dollars & Sense Accounting of Ludington: 231-845-7292.

– Shoreline Properties of Whitehall, www.shorelinepropertiesofwm.com; 231-894-1930.

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