Mother of Convicted Killer Pleads No Contest
On May 6, 2014, Tammi Lynne Spofford pleaded no contest to accessory after the fact in the killing of Michigan State Police Trooper Paul K. Butterfield. The original incident took place on September 9, 2013, when her son, Eric Knysz, shot and killed Butterfield. Spofford was accused of assisting Knysz and his wife. Spofford was charged with accessory after the fact of a felony and unlawful driving away of an automobile. Although she did not take any part in the actual killing, under Michigan law the penalties for an accessory after the fact charge can be severe.
An accessory after the fact is a person who knowingly assists a perpetrator of a crime after the crime has been completed. Even if the person who committed the crime is never convicted, a person can be found guilty of accessory after the fact as long as it can be proved that the crime occurred, and the person offered assistance after the crime. An obvious example of an accessory after the fact is a person who assists a wanted felon hiding from the law. Accessory after the fact is a common law offense, so its origins derive from case law. Although the crime of “accessory after the fact” is not explicitly outlined in the Michigan Compiled Laws, MCL 750.505 does set out the relevant sentencing guidelines which can include incarceration for up to five years or a fine of up to $10,000. It is up to the court to decide whether it should be prison, fines, or both.
Thanks to a plea agreement, Spofford should only spend a year in jail. A good attorney can fight for you no matter what crime you get charged with, and being accused of being an accessory after the fact is nothing to take lightly. If you find yourself accused of a crime and need legal advice, it is best to consult an attorney.