Slain trooper’s father on killer’s suicide: ‘Eric had a choice; my son didn’t’

FRANKENMUTH, MI – Paul T. Butterfield, father of the Michigan State Police trooper murdered by Eric John Knysz, felt little when he learned of Knysz’s death Thursday, April 17.

Paul-K-Butterfield.jpgMichigan State Police Trooper Paul K. Butterfield II

“I’m kind of unemotional,” Butterfield, a retired state trooper living in Frankenmuth, said in a telephone interview. “I don’t have any feelings one way or the other. I’m not happy, I’m not sad.

“He was just a very troubled young person,” he said of Knysz.

Knysz without warning and without provocation shot Trooper Paul K. Butterfield II in the head Sept. 9, 2013, after a traffic stop on a rural road in Mason County.

“The thing is, none of this is bringing my son back,” the elder Butterfield said. “His (Knysz’s) death doesn’t help anything. I guess I don’t have to think about what he’s doing now, walking around.

“He chose to make that decision. My son didn’t have that choice. Eric had a choice; my son didn’t.”

Eric-Knysz-prison.jpgEric Knysz’s prison mugshot, April 10, 2014

Butterfield said he believes Knysz killed himself because he was scared of prison. “He was a guy that’s 20 years old, and he could spend the next 60 years in prison. Looking at his mugshot there from Jackson, he looked kind of frightened.”

Knysz, 20, hanged himself with a bed sheet Monday, April 14, at the Charles E. Egeler Reception and Guidance Center in Jackson. He was declared brain dead shortly after and kept alive on a ventilator until about 10:30 a.m. April 17 for his organs to be donated.

Knysz had been transported to state prison April 10 from the Mason County Jail to begin serving a sentence of life without possibility of parole for the first-degree murder of a peace officer.

At Knysz’s sentencing April 8 in Ludington, Butterfield described his son at age 19 – a track star, soon-to-be soldier, future state trooper. He contrasted that with Knysz, who was 19 with a felony record when he killed the trooper, and told Knysz he hoped he’d think every day of his life sentence about what he’d done.

Asked after the sentencing if he was glad it was over, Butterfield summed up the feelings of a grieving parent about the whole situation: “It’ll never be over.”

Butterfield said Thursday he does have some sympathy for Knysz’s family. “They’ve been through a lot, I’ve got to give them that,” he said. “This couldn’t have been easy for them, either.”

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Slain trooper’s father on killer’s suicide: ‘Eric had a choice; my son didn’t’

FRANKENMUTH, MI – Paul T. Butterfield, father of the Michigan State Police trooper murdered by Eric John Knysz, felt little when he learned of Knysz’s death Thursday, April 17.

Paul-K-Butterfield.jpgMichigan State Police Trooper Paul K. Butterfield II

“I’m kind of unemotional,” Butterfield, a retired state trooper living in Frankenmuth, said in a telephone interview. “I don’t have any feelings one way or the other. I’m not happy, I’m not sad.

“He was just a very troubled young person,” he said of Knysz.

Knysz without warning and without provocation shot Trooper Paul K. Butterfield II in the head Sept. 9, 2013, after a traffic stop on a rural road in Mason County.

“The thing is, none of this is bringing my son back,” the elder Butterfield said. “His (Knysz’s) death doesn’t help anything. I guess I don’t have to think about what he’s doing now, walking around.

“He chose to make that decision. My son didn’t have that choice. Eric had a choice; my son didn’t.”

Eric-Knysz-prison.jpgEric Knysz’s prison mugshot, April 10, 2014

Butterfield said he believes Knysz killed himself because he was scared of prison. “He was a guy that’s 20 years old, and he could spend the next 60 years in prison. Looking at his mugshot there from Jackson, he looked kind of frightened.”

Knysz, 20, hanged himself with a bed sheet Monday, April 14, at the Charles E. Egeler Reception and Guidance Center in Jackson. He was declared brain dead shortly after and kept alive on a ventilator until about 10:30 a.m. April 17 for his organs to be donated.

Knysz had been transported to state prison April 10 from the Mason County Jail to begin serving a sentence of life without possibility of parole for the first-degree murder of a peace officer.

At Knysz’s sentencing April 8 in Ludington, Butterfield described his son at age 19 – a track star, soon-to-be soldier, future state trooper. He contrasted that with Knysz, who was 19 with a felony record when he killed the trooper, and told Knysz he hoped he’d think every day of his life sentence about what he’d done.

Asked after the sentencing if he was glad it was over, Butterfield summed up the feelings of a grieving parent about the whole situation: “It’ll never be over.”

Butterfield said Thursday he does have some sympathy for Knysz’s family. “They’ve been through a lot, I’ve got to give them that,” he said. “This couldn’t have been easy for them, either.”

Source Article from http://www.mlive.com/news/muskegon/index.ssf/2014/04/slain_troopers_father_on_kille.html

Slain trooper’s father on killer’s suicide: ‘Eric had a choice; my son didn’t’

FRANKENMUTH, MI – Paul T. Butterfield, father of the Michigan State Police trooper murdered by Eric John Knysz, felt little when he learned of Knysz’s death Thursday, April 17.

Paul-K-Butterfield.jpgMichigan State Police Trooper Paul K. Butterfield II

“I’m kind of unemotional,” Butterfield, a retired state trooper living in Frankenmuth, said in a telephone interview. “I don’t have any feelings one way or the other. I’m not happy, I’m not sad.

“He was just a very troubled young person,” he said of Knysz.

Knysz without warning and without provocation shot Trooper Paul K. Butterfield II in the head Sept. 9, 2013, after a traffic stop on a rural road in Mason County.

“The thing is, none of this is bringing my son back,” the elder Butterfield said. “His (Knysz’s) death doesn’t help anything. I guess I don’t have to think about what he’s doing now, walking around.

“He chose to make that decision. My son didn’t have that choice. Eric had a choice; my son didn’t.”

Eric-Knysz-prison.jpgEric Knysz’s prison mugshot, April 10, 2014

Butterfield said he believes Knysz killed himself because he was scared of prison. “He was a guy that’s 20 years old, and he could spend the next 60 years in prison. Looking at his mugshot there from Jackson, he looked kind of frightened.”

Knysz, 20, hanged himself with a bed sheet Monday, April 14, at the Charles E. Egeler Reception and Guidance Center in Jackson. He was declared brain dead shortly after and kept alive on a ventilator until about 10:30 a.m. April 17 for his organs to be donated.

Knysz had been transported to state prison April 10 from the Mason County Jail to begin serving a sentence of life without possibility of parole for the first-degree murder of a peace officer.

At Knysz’s sentencing April 8 in Ludington, Butterfield described his son at age 19 – a track star, soon-to-be soldier, future state trooper. He contrasted that with Knysz, who was 19 with a felony record when he killed the trooper, and told Knysz he hoped he’d think every day of his life sentence about what he’d done.

Asked after the sentencing if he was glad it was over, Butterfield summed up the feelings of a grieving parent about the whole situation: “It’ll never be over.”

Butterfield said Thursday he does have some sympathy for Knysz’s family. “They’ve been through a lot, I’ve got to give them that,” he said. “This couldn’t have been easy for them, either.”

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Slain trooper’s father on killer’s suicide: ‘Eric had a choice; my son didn’t’

FRANKENMUTH, MI – Paul T. Butterfield, father of the Michigan State Police trooper murdered by Eric John Knysz, felt little when he learned of Knysz’s death Thursday, April 17.

Paul-K-Butterfield.jpgMichigan State Police Trooper Paul K. Butterfield II

“I’m kind of unemotional,” Butterfield, a retired state trooper living in Frankenmuth, said in a telephone interview. “I don’t have any feelings one way or the other. I’m not happy, I’m not sad.

“He was just a very troubled young person,” he said of Knysz.

Knysz without warning and without provocation shot Trooper Paul K. Butterfield II in the head Sept. 9, 2013, after a traffic stop on a rural road in Mason County.

“The thing is, none of this is bringing my son back,” the elder Butterfield said. “His (Knysz’s) death doesn’t help anything. I guess I don’t have to think about what he’s doing now, walking around.

“He chose to make that decision. My son didn’t have that choice. Eric had a choice; my son didn’t.”

Eric-Knysz-prison.jpgEric Knysz’s prison mugshot, April 10, 2014

Butterfield said he believes Knysz killed himself because he was scared of prison. “He was a guy that’s 20 years old, and he could spend the next 60 years in prison. Looking at his mugshot there from Jackson, he looked kind of frightened.”

Knysz, 20, hanged himself with a bed sheet Monday, April 14, at the Charles E. Egeler Reception and Guidance Center in Jackson. He was declared brain dead shortly after and kept alive on a ventilator until about 10:30 a.m. April 17 for his organs to be donated.

Knysz had been transported to state prison April 10 from the Mason County Jail to begin serving a sentence of life without possibility of parole for the first-degree murder of a peace officer.

At Knysz’s sentencing April 8 in Ludington, Butterfield described his son at age 19 – a track star, soon-to-be soldier, future state trooper. He contrasted that with Knysz, who was 19 with a felony record when he killed the trooper, and told Knysz he hoped he’d think every day of his life sentence about what he’d done.

Asked after the sentencing if he was glad it was over, Butterfield summed up the feelings of a grieving parent about the whole situation: “It’ll never be over.”

Butterfield said Thursday he does have some sympathy for Knysz’s family. “They’ve been through a lot, I’ve got to give them that,” he said. “This couldn’t have been easy for them, either.”

Source Article from http://www.mlive.com/news/muskegon/index.ssf/2014/04/slain_troopers_father_on_kille.html

Chance encounter ended lives of state trooper Paul K. Butterfield II and now his murderer, Eric Knysz

LUDINGTON, MI – A few minutes after 6 p.m. Sept. 9, 2013, Michigan State Police Trooper Paul K. Butterfield II, 43, was starting his evening shift on road patrol in rural Mason County.

Eric John Knysz, then 19, was driving his father’s pickup truck from Ludington to his home in Lake County, his wife beside him.

There’s no evidence the two men had ever heard of each other. But their paths crossed around 6:20 p.m. on that late-summer evening, ultimately ending both their lives — both by Knysz’s hand.

Butterfield died that night, shot in the head without provocation. Knysz died Thursday, April 17, 2014, three days after he hanged himself in his prison cell.

The Michigan Department of Corrections late Thursday afternoon announced that Knysz, 20, had been removed from life support at around 10:30 a.m. He had been on a ventilator, brain dead since shortly after his suicide attempt and kept alive so his organs could be harvested, according to his family.

“It’s sad for everybody,” Michigan State Police Capt. David Roesler, commander of the Grand Rapids-based District 6, said Thursday evening. “It’s just sad for the Butterfield family, sad for the Knysz family. What a waste.”

Mason County Sheriff Kim Cole, a personal friend of the slain trooper who rode in the ambulance with him after the shooting, was reflective.

“Having kids (Knysz’s) age, I do feel sorry for Mr. (John) Knysz, the dad,” Cole said. “I can’t imagine losing one of my children.

Paul-K-Butterfield.jpgMichigan State Police Trooper Paul K. Butterfield II

“That being said, life is all about choices. … Sadly, Paul’s killer made a series of bad choices, not only that night but throughout his life,” Cole said.

“In the end, he had nobody to blame but himself for where he ended up.”

Knysz hanged himself with a bed sheet at the Charles E. Egeler Reception and Guidance Center in Jackson, four days after he was transported there from the Mason County Jail to begin serving a life sentence. Mason County 51st Circuit Judge Richard I. Cooper sentenced him April 8 to life without possibility of parole for first-degree murder of a peace officer. A jury convicted him of that and other charges Feb. 25.

According to Sarah Knysz’s testimony at her husband’s trial, Eric Knysz shot Butterfield without warning after the trooper pulled the truck over and was leaning toward Knysz’s open driver’s window, starting to say something like “How’s it going?”

Butterfield had called in the truck’s license plate number and his location on Custer Road north of Townline Road before getting out of his patrol car. That led ultimately to the couple’s capture.

According to Sarah Knysz’s testimony and recorded police interviews with Eric Knysz, her husband shot Butterfield because Knysz was driving on a suspended license – a suspension that was due to end less than six hours later – and had concealed firearms in the truck, a felony, and feared going to jail.

It’s never been established why Butterfield pulled the truck over, but Sarah Knysz mentioned one possibility in her trial testimony: The truck had a muffler “loud enough to upset people.”

Sarah Knysz, 21, is serving a prison sentence of two to five years for accessory after the fact to murder and a concurrent 11 months for car theft, for her actions helping her husband get away after he shot Butterfield. The couple’s daughter was reportedly born Christmas Day and, according to a Facebook page supporting Sarah Knysz, was in the care of Sarah’s mother.

Eric Knysz’s mother, 50-year-old Tammi Spofford, faces the same two felony charges as Sarah Knysz. Spofford is scheduled for trial May 21-23 in Mason County.

John
S. Hausman covers courts, prisons, the environment and local government for
MLive Muskegon Chronicle. Email him at 
jhausman@mlive.com  and follow
him on 
Twitter.

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Witness: Alleged motive for killing state trooper, suspended license, wouldn’t have existed in six hours

Butterfield, Paul-21.jpgMichigan State Police Trooper Paul K. Butterfield II

LUDINGTON, MI – Eric John Knysz’s driver’s license suspension – his alleged murder motive – had less than six hours left to run when he fatally shot Michigan State Police Trooper Paul K. Butterfield II at a traffic stop.

That emerged from testimony Tuesday, Feb. 25, by state police Detective Sgt. Scott Rios, the lead investigator of Butterfield’s homicide.

Rios testified that Knysz’s license suspension ran only through the end of Sept. 9, 2013, the day he admittedly shot Butterfield at about 6:20 p.m.

That piece of information explains a muttered statement heard on a recording of Eric Knysz’s interview with a police detective Sept. 12. He pulled out his gun “’Cuz I knew if he pulled me over I was going to go to jail, ‘cuz I was on a suspended license,” Knysz told the detective, then adding:

“I didn’t f—ing have one f—ing day.”

In Eric Knysz’s statement to police and in testimony by his wife, Sarah Renee Knysz, who was with him when he admittedly shot Butterfield, he did so for fear of going to jail because of the suspended license and the fact that he had guns in the truck.

RELATED: Read live coverage of Tuesday’s trial action

Rios was the last witness for Mason County Prosecutor Paul Spaniola.

Immediately after Spaniola closed his case, Knysz – to no one’s surprise — confirmed outside the presence of the jury that he was choosing not to testify in his own defense.

Neither did anyone else. Defense attorney David Glancy put on no witnesses. With that, the case rested other than the attorneys’ closing statements, scheduled for 1:30 p.m. after a lunch break.

The case will then go to the jury to deliberate on a verdict after jury instructions by Mason County Circuit Judge Richard I. Cooper.

Most of Rios’s testimony was a summary of the prosecution case, reviewing evidence and testimony already presented earlier in the trial.

Also testifying Tuesday morning was Dr. David Start, the forensic pathologist who did the autopsy on Butterfield. He testified that the cause of death was a gunshot wound to the right upper side of the head, entering from above and proceeding down and toward the back of the trooper’s brain – as it would if Butterfield was leaning forward toward the open window of Knysz’s truck.

MLive Muskegon Chronicle has a reporter and a photographer in the courtroom and will cover the trial’s conclusion and verdict.

Knysz, 20, of Irons is accused of shooting Butterfield in the head after the trooper pulled over Knysz and his wife in a traffic stop on Custer Road north of Townline Road in rural Mason County’s Freesoil Township.

Many family and loved ones are in the courtroom Tuesday, including the trooper’s father, retired trooper Paul T. Butterfield, and the younger Butterfield’s fiancee, Jennifer Sielski. So are many state police officials and troopers, including Col. Kriste Kibbe Etue, the department’s director.

John
S. Hausman covers courts, prisons, the environment and local government for
MLive/Muskegon Chronicle. Email him at 
jhausman@mlive.com  and follow
him on 
Twitter.

Source Article from http://www.mlive.com/news/muskegon/index.ssf/2014/02/witness_eric_knyszs_alleged_mo.html

Peg West: A searing story about a fallen state police trooper, told the right way from a local courtroom

Bit by bit this week, the drama and sadness in a Mason
County courtroom was revealed through words, pictures and video.

A picture of a grieving father, his face covered with a gauze
mask for protection because he is battling leukemia, sitting in the courtroom
gallery.

Later, reporter John Hausman created an image for readers as
he provided live coverage of the trial through words. He described that same
father, Paul T. Butterfield, bowing his head and crying at the sound of the
voice of his son, slain state police trooper Paul K. Butterfield II, as a
police dispatch tape played.

The video from court while those recordings played was
wrenching. First you could hear Butterfield calling in what sounded like a
routine traffic stop, with no indication of the trouble that would follow
moments later. The next voices were those of frantic callers who were trying to
help the mortally wounded Butterfield, and pleading with dispatchers to send
help quickly.

“He’s in so much pain!”

“Oh my God, he’s lost so much blood!”

The words and images recounting the day Butterfield was shot
were heartbreaking. They were as hard to view as they were compelling. It was
hard for our team, too. Hausman and multimedia specialist Ken Stevens noted how
tough it was to hear that testimony and see that pain as they set about
conveying it.

They were doing their jobs, of course, and know that subject
matter like this comes with the territory. We in the media often are criticized
for showing such emotion as we pictured, and this time was no different. Other
commenters quickly jumped in to say journalists need to chronicle what happens
in the courtroom, no matter how tough.

The result of Hausman’s and Stevens’ work indeed was an
unflinching account of what happened, but layered with plenty of humanity. That
is the right way to tell this terrible story.

Another searing moment from that day: A picture of a deputy
bowing his head and trying to collect himself while he held up the garrison hat
of Butterfield.

Or this from witness Charles Comstock, as described by
Hausman: First
deputy arrived said “they call him Butters.” So Comstock rubbed his
back, “tried to befriend this man I so desperately wanted to help … It
just didn’t seem enough.” He’s crying almost continuously, wiping his eyes
as he gestures, his face earnest, trying to describe his seemingly futile
efforts to help.

One can only hope that the fallen trooper’s father, his
fiancé Jennifer Sielski and other loved ones can take a measure
of comfort from the difficult testimony they heard from witnesses.

There were strangers desperately trying to help Butterfield,
comforting him, reassuring him that he wasn’t alone. The witnesses told of his breathing
seeming to ease at the sound of their words.

Amid all of the horror, humanity.

Source Article from http://www.mlive.com/opinion/muskegon/index.ssf/2014/02/peg_west_a_searing_story_about.html

Live coverage: Today’s testimony at trooper-murder trial of Eric Knysz

Butterfield, Paul-2.jpgMichigan State Police Trooper Paul K. Butterfield II

LUDINGTON, MI – After an emotional first day of testimony at the murder trial of Eric John Knysz, charged with fatally shooting Michigan State Police Trooper Paul K. Butterfield II, jurors were to hear more prosecution witnesses Thursday, Feb. 20.

MLive Muskegon Chronicle is covering the trial live, with updates as they happen posted in the comments section below this story.

The court day was scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m.

RELATED: Tears, drama mark first day of testimony

Knysz, 20, of the Irons area, is accused of shooting Butterfield in the head after the trooper pulled over Knysz and his wife, Sarah Renee Knysz, in a traffic stop around 6:20 p.m. Sept. 9 on Custer Road north of Townline Road in rural Mason County’s Freesoil Township.

Knysz is charged with murder of a peace officer, which carries a sentence of life in prison without possibility of parole; felony firearm, a consecutive two-year felony; and carrying concealed weapons and motor vehicle theft, both normally five-year felonies. He is charged as a second-time habitual offender based on a 2008 Lake County conviction of first-degree home invasion.

 

Wednesday was marked by tearful, compelling testimony by citizens who found Butterfield lying face down along the side of the road, unable to talk but seemingly conscious, and tried to help and comfort him.

Jurors also heard recordings of Butterfield’s final call to Central Dispatch, reporting his location and the license number of the pickup truck he was pulling over, and of the citizens’ frantic calls to 911 about three minutes later.

Source Article from http://www.mlive.com/news/muskegon/index.ssf/2014/02/live_coverage_todays_testimony.html

Live coverage: Trooper-murder trial opening statements, first testimony

LUDINGTON, MI – With jury selection complete, the trial proper of Eric John Knysz, charged with the murder of Michigan State Police Trooper Paul K. Butterfield II, was starting Wednesday, Feb. 19.

MLive Muskegon Chronicle is covering the trial live, with updates as they happen posted in the comments section below this story.

The court day was scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. with Mason County Circuit Judge Richard I. Cooper’s initial instructions to jurors, then opening statements by Mason County Prosecutor Paul Spaniola and defense attorney David Glancy. Prosecution witness testimony will follow.

Knysz, 20, of the Irons area is accused of shooting Butterfield in the head after the trooper pulled over Knysz and his wife, Sarah Renee Knysz, in a traffic stop the evening of Sept. 9 on Custer Road in rural Mason County.

Knysz is charged with murder of a peace officer, which carries a sentence of life in prison without possibility of parole; felony firearm, a consecutive two-year felony; and carrying concealed weapons and motor vehicle theft, both normally five-year felonies. He is charged as a second-time habitual offender based on a 2008 Lake County conviction of first-degree home invasion. That could boost the maximum sentence for the last two counts to 7½ years.

Sarah Knysz, 21, pleaded guilty as charged to accessory after the fact to a felony and car theft. Cooper sentenced her Dec. 10 to prison for two to five years for the accessory count and a concurrent 11 months for car theft.

As part of her plea agreement, Sarah Knysz agreed to testify against her husband. At her guilty plea Nov. 5, she told the judge that the couple were in his father’s pickup truck, returning to Irons where the father lived, after selling some guns in Ludington that Eric had allegedly stolen from his father. Some guns were still in the car.

At about 6:20 p.m., Butterfield pulled them over. The 43-year-old trooper reportedly walked to the driver’s window and started to say something like “How’s it going?” Eric shot him before he could finish, Sarah testified. The trooper fell in the road, and they left.

At 6:23 p.m., a passing motorist called 911 to report finding Butterfield on the ground. Butterfield was airlifted to Traverse City’s Munson Medical Center, where he died that night.

Based on information Butterfield had relayed to dispatch about the vehicle he stopped, police began to seek Eric Knysz as the suspect, according to police. Police located the couple at a gas station and store in Manistee County, by this time with an allegedly stolen car, at approximately 8:25 p.m. Eric Knysz allegedly pulled a gun when confronted by police and was shot in the leg. He’s been charged with felonies in Manistee County.

Source Article from http://www.mlive.com/news/muskegon/index.ssf/2014/02/live_coverage_trooper-murder_t.html

Report: State troopers awarded for role in arrests connected to fatal shooting of Trooper Paul Butterfield

MASON COUNTY, MI – Two Michigan State Police troopers received bravery awards for their roles in capturing the man who allegedly shot and killed Trooper Paul K. Butterfield II, the Ludington Daily News reports.

Michigan State Police Director Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue recently presented bravery awards to the troopers who captured the man who allegedly fatally shot Butterfield on Sept. 9, 2013.

Michigan State Police Troopers Steven Arendt and Jeffrey Crofoot of the Cadillac post each received the awards, the Daily News reported.

Eric Knysz has been charged with multiple felony charges including murder of a peace officer, which is punishable by life in prison without possibility of parole, MLive has reported.

The 43-year-old Butterfield was shot in the head after he stopped what authorities say was Knysz’s pickup truck at 6:20 p.m. Sept. 9. He died after being airlifted to Munson Medical Center in Traverse City, MLive reported.

Sarah Renee Knsyz, Eric’s wife, is serving prison time after being convicted of being an accessory after the fact to murder of a peace officer and unlawful driving away of a motor vehicle

The two suspects fled from the scene but were apprehended after Eric was shot in the leg when they were confronted by troopers in Dublin, Mich.

According to the Ludington Daily News, Arendt enlisted with the department in 1999, and  Crofoot enlisted with the department in 2008, graduating as a member of the 121st Trooper Recruit School. 

Source Article from http://www.mlive.com/news/muskegon/index.ssf/2014/01/report_state_troopers_awarded.html