LUDINGTON, Mich. (WOOD) — After emotional testimony on the stand from his wife, accused trooper-killer Eric Knysz exercised some of his limited power over the proceedings and ordered his defense attorney not to cross-examine his wife after she testified against him.
Knysz, 20, stands charged with murdering Michigan State Police Trooper Paul Butterfield during a Sept. 9 traffic stop.
The only eyewitness to the crime — Eric’s wife, Sarah — took the stand to testify for the prosecution just before noon Monday.
She told jurors that her husband shot Butterfield as he greeted the couple after he pulled over the truck that Eric Knysz was driving.
“[Eric] said he was sorry but he had to do it… he didn’t want to go to prison,” Sarah Knysz told the Mason County courtroom.
Sarah Knysz, who wiped away tears during the most difficult parts of her testimony, also testified about a letter that her husband wrote to her attorney in which he appeared to be trying to alleviate her of any culpability in the crime.
In the letter, purportedly written by Eric Knysz and read by the prosecutor in court, he said he threatened his wife and forced her to participate in helping him get away after the murder.
Sarah Knysz testified that she was not directly threatened.
After her testimony, the jury was dismissed so Eric’s defense attorney could place on the record the fact that Eric requested that his wife not be cross examined. Before she left the stand, Knysz spoke to her from the defense table.
“I want to say that I love you and I’m sorry for putting you and (our son) through this,” Eric Knysz said.
Sarah Knysz, who gave birth to the couple’s son on Christmas Day, began to cry again after Eric spoke.
After she left the stand, Sarah Knysz was immediately taken away from court to continue serving out her two to five-year sentence for being an accessory after the trooper’s murder.
Before Sarah Knysz’ testimony Monday, jurors heard the recording of a second police interview with Eric Knysz, who tearfully expressed remorse and again confessed to the killing.
Throughout the first half of the trial, Eric Knysz showed little emotion as he has listened to the testimony, taking notes as he sat next to his attorney.
On Friday, jurors heard the first interview police conducted with Eric Knysz in the hours after the shooting. He confessed to killing Butterfield because he was driving on a suspended license, had weapons, and was afraid of going to prison.
Monday morning, the prosecution played the second interview with Eric Knysz that was conducted on Sept. 12.
“If I could do anything to change that, I would,” a crying Eric Knysz told the officer during the interview when asked if he had a message for the late trooper’s family. “If I could have him shoot me instead, I would.”
He also said he wanted to apologize for what he put his own family through.
In the recording, Eric Knysz and the officer also discussed a concern that police said was raised by his wife in which she claimed her husband was abusing prescription drugs.
Eric Knysz admitted to using the drugs “so I could move,” as he dealt with pain from a back injury sustained during an accident.
Eric Knysz also admitted to selling weapons in the time prior to the shooting and disclosed details of the theft of the white Grand Prix he apparently stole shortly after the shooting.
Toward the end of the interview, Eric Knysz asked the officer how long Sarah might be incarcerated for her role. The officer told him he didn’t know.
“This doesn’t happen all the time,” an officer said. “This is rare,” said another.
24 Hour News 8’s Leon Hendrix is in the courtroom and tweeting updates:
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