JACKSON (WWJ/AP) – A man serving a life sentence for murdering a Michigan State Trooper has been taken off life-support following a suicide attempt.
The Corrections department said in a release that Eric Knysz was removed from life-support about 10:30 a.m. Thursday at a hospital in Jackson. Knysz tried to hang himself with a bed sheet Monday afternoon at a detention center in Jackson.
Knysz was convicted of first-degree murder in the fatal shooting of Trooper Paul Butterfield II and was sentenced April 8 to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Butterfield’s father, Paul, said Thursday that Knysz was a “very troubled individual.” He said Knysz’ death “didn’t bring” his son back.
Butterfield was shot in the head during a traffic stop around 6:20 p.m. Sept. 9, 2013 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. Spofford, 50, is awaiting a May trial on similar charges for her role in the crime.
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