A trial date of Feb. 18-28, 2014, was set for Eric John Knysz, 19, Luther, Tuesday in Mason County’s 51st Circuit Court during a final conference on charges in the shooting death of Michigan State Police Trooper Paul Butterfield II Sept. 9 on North Custer Road.
In Mason County, Eric Knysz is charged with murder of a peace officer, transporting a stolen firearm — a .357-caliber Colt Python revolver with a two-inch barrel — carrying a concealed weapon, and unlawful driving away of an automobile.
He was given notice he is also being charged as a habitual offender second offense due to a felony home invasion second degree conviction in Lake County four years ago.
Mason County Prosecuting Attorney Paul Spaniola offered no deal during the final conference, saying only that Knysz could "plead unconditionally to the charges."
If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Eric walked into court Tuesday using crutches, still healing from a gunshot wound to the knee, where a Michigan State Police trooper shot him in a Manistee County gas station/convenience store, police say.
Trooper Butterfield was working in Mason County when he was shot during a traffic stop on Custer Road near Townline Road. He died later that night in a Traverse City hospital.
Eric and his wife, Sarah, both face charges in Mason and Manistee counties. The Manistee County charges involve crimes the couple allegedly committed in Manistee County's rural community of Dublin on the night of Butterfield’s death.
Police said, in Dublin, Eric pointed a gun at an MSP trooper when he was cornered at the gas station and a trooper then shot Eric in the knee before Eric was arrested.
The Knyszes are heing held in the Mason County Jail.
Eric was brought into the Mason County Courthouse amid a sea of law enforcement officers, with members of the Michigan State Police, Mason County Sheriff's Office and Ludington Police Department all there to see Eric in person.
51st Circuit Court Judge Richard I. Cooper mentioned in court in their presence he wanted to make sure they did not comment publicly on their emotions about the case for fear of not being able to seat a jury.
Comments are OK "if it's factual," Cooper said.
If a change of venue had to be made, "I'm not sure where we'd end up," he said.
Eric’s bond was set at $250,000 in Manistee County and he has been denied bond in Mason County.
Charges against Sarah, age, 20, include unlawfully driving away an automobile, which has a five-year maximum sentence. Her bond was set at $50,000 cash in Manistee County and is $250,000 cash or surety in Mason County.
A final conference for Sarah Knysz is set for 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 5 in 51st Circuit Court.
The Ludington Daily News will continue to update the story on this case, with more on the story Wednesday.