Eric Knysz found guilty in Trooper Butterfield murder
A jury has found Eric Knysz guilty in the September murder of State Police Trooper Paul Butterfield.
â??Unfortunately it doesn't bring Paul back,â?? said Jennifer Sielski, Butterfieldâ??s fiancÃ©e, â??but at least his killer won't be out to hurt anybody else. It's just another chapter. It's, this piece is done, but I still go home and grieve. I still try to pick up the pieces of my life.â??
The jury deliberated for just over an hour and a half before reaching the verdict.
Knysz was charged with murder of a police officer, felony firearms, carrying a concealed weapon, unlawfully driving away and being a habitual offender. He was found guilty on all four charges.
On the last day in court Tuesday, the prosecution called its final two witnesses. The defense did not call any witnesses during the case, including Knysz himself, who chose not to testify. Knysz also requested that his attorney not cross examine his wife or father on Monday.
The prosecutor wrapped up closing arguments with one last plea to the jury, using Butterfieldâ??s final words as powerful testimony.
â??It's still hard to talk about,â?? said Mason County Sheriff Kim Cole. â??It's hard when you hear Paul's last words. Paul helped solve his own case by providing vital info with respect to the license number. But yeah, it was heard to hear that.â??
Over the five-day trial, jurors heard testimony from several police officers and sheriff's deputies, but some of the most emotional testimony came Monday from Knysz's wife, Sarah.
Sarah testified that Eric shot Butterfield "in the face" while he was approaching the truck and asking "how's it going?" She then said Eric started the truck and drove away.
After hours of testimony, Prosecutor Paul Spaniola was able to stray from evidence to speak about his feelings regarding the case.
â??This was a difficult case to prosecute from the emotional standpoint,â?? said Spaniola.
The prosecutor said he learned a lot about Butterfield in the past six months, and his heart goes out to Paul's father, step-mother, and fiancÃ©e.
The head of Michigan State Police was in the courtroom when the verdict was handed down. She shared her thanks to the prosecution.
Colonel Kriste Kibbey-Etue said it was a very emotional day for law enforcement in general.
â??I feel strongly that a cold-blooded killer of Trooper Paul Butterfield was found guilty today. I just know that justice was served today. We will go on and we'll serve the state in the way that we always have had to do. I just really thank the prosecutor for your hard work.â??
Knysz will be back in court for sentencing April 8 at 4 p.m.