A 19-year-old man has been charged with a Michgan state trooper's murder. The teen's pregnant wife is also facing criminal charges.
Eric Knysz allegedly shot Trooper Paul Butterfield in the head during a routine traffic stop in Mason County, north of Muskegon, on Monday. Knysz's pregnant wife Sarah, 20, was also in the car. A motive has yet to be determined, the Muskegon Chronicle reports.
The couple was charged with the following laundry-list of crimes:
For the trooper's alleged murder, Eric Knysz is charged with four felony counts:
- Homicide-murder of a peace officer. In Michigan, murdering a police officer while he is performing his duties carries a maximum sentence of life in prison without possibility of parole.
- Felony firearm possession. Knysz allegedly possessed a pistol at the time of Butterfield's homicide. While state gun laws vary widely, in Michigan it's a crime to have a gun when you're committing or attempting to commit a felony.
- Carrying a concealed weapon. In general, Michigan allows people to carry concealed weapons -- even in churches, schools and sports arenas, reports Detroit's WWJ-TV -- but only if you have a permit.
- Unlawfully driving away a motor vehicle. Knysz allegedly took a nearby resident's car while fleeing after the officer was shot. In Michigan, it's a felony punishable by up to five years in prison to intentionally take possession of a motor vehicle without the owner's permission. Unlike theft, it doesn't matter whether the person intended to permanently keep the car.
Sarah Knysz, who is six months pregnant, faces two felony counts, according to the Muskegon Chronicle:
- Accessory after the fact to a felony. Because Sarah Knysz allegedly drove off with her husband after the incident, she's charged with feloniously assisting her husband while knowing that he had committed murder, with the intent help him avoid punishment.
- Unlawfully driving away a motor vehicle. Sarah Knysz was charged with this crime as well because she allegedly assisted in taking possession of the neighbor's car without permission.
Eric Knysz has quite a rap sheet, according to the Chronicle. That criminal background could potentially enhance his punishments if he's convicted. But that shouldn't affect the sentencing of his pregnant wife if she's found guilty too.
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