LUDINGTON (WWJ/AP) – The 50-year-old mother of a man convicted of killing a Michigan state trooper has pleaded to an accessory charge.
Tammi Lynne Spofford pleaded no contest in Mason County Circuit Court earlier this week to accessory after the fact of a felony. Spofford faces a maximum of one year in jail under the agreement.
Spofford, of Irons, Mich., is accused of helping her son, Eric Knysz, and daughter in-law, Sarah Knysz, after the fatal shooting of Michigan State Police Trooper Paul Butterfield last year.
Eric Knysz, who was found guilty of killing Butterfield in February, hanged himself last month at a detention center in Jackson. Sarah Knysz is serving two to five years in prison for accessory after the fact.
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 Eric Knysz, 20, 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 Spofford’s house where Eric Knysz cleaned Butterfield’s blood and tissue off the truck with napkins.
After picking up 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.
Spofford’s no-contest plea is not an admission of guilt, but will be treated as one when she is sentenced June 17. She remains free on bond.
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