Guilty Verdict for Eric Knysz in Trooper Butterfield Killing
LUDINGTON, Mich. (Feb. 25, 2014) — Eric Knysz was found guilty of first-degree murder and four other counts Tuesday related to the killing of Michigan State Police Trooper Paul Butterfield.
Knysz, 20, shot Butterfield Sept. 9, 2013 during a traffic stop in Mason County before being arrested along with his wife Sarah in Manistee County.
Butterfield, 43, died later that night during surgery.
The jury deliberated for less than two hours before reaching the guilty verdict Tuesday.
Knysz was also found guilty of vehicle theft, carrying a concealed weapon, felony firearm and being a habitual offender.
Sarah Knysz testified against her husband Monday as part of a plea agreement. She is currently serving two to five years for being an accessory after the fact and vehicle theft.
Eric’s father, John Knysz, also took the stand Monday, testifying about the guns Eric stole from him, including the murder weapon. Eric asked that his attorney not cross examine his wife or his father following their testimony.
Several others, including witnesses who found Butterfield after the shooting and several investigators were also called to the stand in Mason County over the past week.
Connie Helton testified Feb. 18 that when she found Trooper Butterfield on the side of the road on her way home from work, she knelt down to tell him to “hold on” and prayed with him.
She testified that he lifted his head up and patted his chest.
Mason County Chief Deputy Steve Hansen held up the trooper’s hat during his emotional testimony on that same day. A hole was clearly visible on top of the hat.
Officers who arrested Eric and Sarah Knysz in Manistee County also testified, including the trooper who shot Knysz in the leg when he attempted to flee.
Recordings of of Eric Knysz confessing to the killing in the hospital were also played for the jury.
During the interview played in court Monday, investigators asked Knysz if he had anything to say about what he did.
“I’d like to greatly apologize to them. Tell them that I was — please hand them my sincere apologies. If I could do anything to change that, I would. If I could have him shoot me instead, I would,” he said on the recording.
He faces a mandatory life sentence behind bars when he is sentenced next month.