IRONS, Mich. (WOOD) - The mother of the man suspected of killing a Michigan State Police trooper said she believes his wife had nothing to do with the crime.
"I think Sarah was just scared," said Tammi Spofford, whose son Eric Knysz is accused of shooting Trooper Paul Butterfield in the head during a Monday evening traffic stop northeast of Ludington in Mason County.
Spofford, who lives a short distance from Knysz's father, told 24 Hour News 8 that their family has tried for years to get help for their son. He has been in and out of trouble since he was 14 years old, when he was involved in a burglary.
"Yeah, Eric had some problems. This is the baby they lost a year ago last May," she said, holding up an ultrasound. "This is the one they're expecting," she showed another. "Eric was turning his life around. What happened? I don't know."
Knysz is 19. His 20-year-old wife Sarah is six months pregnant. They found out she was expecting about the time he got into his last trouble for assaulting his own uncle in March.
"The day he got this, he called me and said, 'Mom, you have a grandson,'" she said of the latest ultrasound, which she keeps on her refrigerator door.
Her son Eric is accused of shooting Butterfield during what appeared to be a routine traffic stop on Monday as Knysz drove his father's pickup. He faces several charges including murder of a police officer, weapons charges and auto theft.
His wife Sarah has already been arraigned on charges of being an accessory after the fact and auto theft.
Knysz's father Jack said Thursday that Eric called his mother Tammi after Butterfield was shot and that she picked up the pickup truck, not knowing anything that had happened. Tammi denied that.
What she wants now is a chance to talk with her son, who has been at Munson Medical Center in Traverse City since he suffered a gunshot wound during a shootout with police.
His father has said he was shot in the knee and underwent surgery on Thursday.
"It's hard to explain Eric," his mom said. "He's a good boy, but people don't see that. All they see is what the world perceives him."
"I'm trying to grasp it, and I can't. He's my son, he's expecting a son. I can't grasp it," she added.
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