JACKSON (WWJ/AP) – Authorities say a man who was sentenced to life in prison last week for the slaying of a Michigan state trooper tried to kill himself.
Michigan Department of Corrections spokesman Russ Marlan said in an email that 20-year-old Eric Knysz tried to hang himself with a bed sheet Monday afternoon. Knysz was being held at a detention center in Jackson and Marlan said he was taken to a local hospital, MLive.com reported.
State Police Lt. Chris McIntire said Knyze is currently on a ventilator. He was still alive as of Monday night.
Knysz was convicted of first-degree murder in the fatal shooting of Trooper Paul Butterfield II in Mason County. He was sentenced last Tuesday to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Butterfield, was shot during a traffic stop around 6:20 p.m. in Sherman Township, about 80 miles north of Grand Rapids. He died later that night after being airlifted by helicopter to Munson Medical Center in Traverse City.
Prosecutors said Knysz shot Butterfield because he was transporting guns he had stolen from his father and feared being arrested. Knysz’s 21-year-old wife Sarah, who was several months pregnant at the time, earlier testified that Butterfield asked them how they were doing when she heard a shot.
“He walked up to the window, started to ask like ‘How’s it going?’ and then I heard the gunshot,” she said, adding that the gun went off before Butterfield could even finish his sentence.
Sarah Knysz, testified that after the shooting, the couple drove to her mother-in-law’s house where Eric Knysz cleaned Butterfield’s blood and tissue off the truck with napkins.
After picking up Eric Knysz’s mother, Tammi Lynne Spofford, the three then drove to nearby Walhalla where the young couple had earlier looked at a car for sale. At that time, Eric Knysz stole a vehicle. Sarah Knysz testified that Spofford took the truck back to her home, while she and her husband took off in the stolen vehicle.
The couple then drove to the a convenience store in Manistee County’s Wellston where police finally caught up with them around 8:25 p.m.
“I went inside the store, he was outside getting gas. After he came in, I saw a state cop looking at the car and my husband ran out the back. I waited in the store and then I heard loud noises and when it registered that it was more gunshots, I went out the front door and I saw my husband laying on the ground. And then I had guns pointed at me and I was told to get on the ground,” she said.
Eric Knysz was shot in the leg. Both were then taken into police custody.
Sarah Knysz was sentenced in December to two to five years in prison after pleading guilty to charges of being an accessory after the fact and auto theft. Eric Knysz’s 50-year-old mother, Tammi Lynn Spofford is awaiting a May trial on similar charges for her role in the crime.
TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.