LUDINGTON, Mich. (AP) — A trio of sobbing witnesses took the stand Wednesday at the trial of a man charged with killing a Michigan state trooper, describing how they found the victim face-down in the road with a gunshot wound to the head.
Paul Butterfield II was alive and aware of their presence as they tried to comfort him and stem the bleeding, the three witnesses said in Mason County Circuit Court.
They were among the first witnesses in the trial of Eric Knysz, who’s charged with murder of a peace officer and other felony counts.
‘‘He didn’t answer or talk to me,’’ said Connie Helton, who was the first to arrive on the scene, a few minutes after Butterfield was shot Sept. 9. ‘‘But he did raise up his head, pat his chest. ... He was patting his chest continuously. I knelt by him, told him to just hold on.’’
Butterfield, 43, was shot during a traffic stop at about 6:20 p.m. and died late that night after being airlifted by helicopter to Munson Medical Center in Traverse City.
Charles Comstock, who wept almost continuously as he testified, said he was upset by his inability to help Butterfield.
While trying to hold gauze to the wound above Butterfield’s eye, Comstock tried the trooper’s collar microphone, then his radio, while others on the scene called 911.
Before testimony got underway Wednesday, both sides presented opening statements.
Defense lawyer David Glancy asked jurors to remember that prosecutor Paul Spaniola’s opening statement was his theory of what happened and that his client was innocent until proven guilty.
Spaniola told jurors that Knysz, 20, shot Butterfield because the defendant was transporting guns he had stolen from his father and feared being arrested.
Butterfield was the son of a state police officer, a high school cross country champion and a competitive runner at the University of Tennessee.