A Pennsylvania woman will serve two life sentences after pleading guilty to the willful starvation and killing of her friend’s daughters in 2021.
Echo Butler, 27, pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to murder her friend’s two young daughters, Nicole, 6, and Jasmine, 4, in Lycoming Circuit Court Friday night.
Butler will serve the sentences without the possibility of parole and will join Marie Snyder, 33, the girls’ birth mother, who pleaded guilty on October 31 to two counts of conspiracy to commit criminal murder, theft by deception and food stamp fraud.
According to a preliminary hearing in the case on March 16, both women allegedly subjected the young girls to intense physical and verbal abuse, restraint and starved them throughout their short lives.
Marie Snyder, 32 (left), and her partner Echo Butler, 26 (right), both pleaded guilty in connection with the willful starvation and deaths of Nicole, 6, and Jasmine, 4
Echo Butler, 27, pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder of her friend Snyder’s two young daughters on Friday night
Butler appeared in orange prison garb with her attorney, Robert Hoffa, before District Judge Nancy L. Butts acknowledged her role in the murder plot.
“What you took from us is beyond words,” Giselle Blank, the girls’ great-grandaunt, told the Sun Gazette.
Blank compared a life sentence to what “you made my nieces suffer” and broke down in tears during Friday’s court appearance.
District Attorney Ryan Gardner had sought the death penalty for Butler if she had chosen to take her case to trial and be convicted.
In the crowded courtroom, Judge Butts laid out the facts of the case based on the evidence gathered and asked Butler if she deliberately conspired with Snyder to kill the girls between January 1, 2015 and November 6, 2021.
Premeditated murder is described as premeditated, premeditated, and premeditated.
According to a preliminary hearing in the case on March 16, both women allegedly subjected the young girls to intense physical and verbal abuse, restraint and starved them throughout their short lives
Butler will serve the sentences without the possibility of parole, which joins Snyder, who pleaded guilty Oct. 31 to two counts of conspiracy to commit criminal murder, theft by deception and food stamp fraud
“Did you feed them?” Butts asked Butler. “Probably not,” Butler said softly.
Judge Butts asked if the girls were being disciplined and read earlier information claiming they had been thrown against the wall, Hoffa denied that fact.
The judge then clarified her testimony, asking if the girls had been disciplined by being asked to stand in a corner with their hands tied behind their backs and watch while others ate – Butler acknowledged that this had been done.
The court heard that the girls became strikingly gaunt, pale and lost their hair as a result of a deliberate form of torture and deliberate starvation that investigators determined led to their deaths.
Gardner said once law enforcement became aware of it, they responded quickly and commended the combined efforts of the former Old Lycoming Township Police Department, the state police, the FBI and county detectives. The former department has since become the Lycoming Regional Police.
“Two precious souls were never given a chance at life,” Gardner said, holding up a picture in a framed picture of the girls that he said was “frozen in time.”
Police found the girls’ bodies buried in two-foot-deep graves in the backyard of Snyder and Butler’s home
Snyder and Butler lived with Butler’s parents in this trailer on Livermore Road
“Their ages will remain 6 and 4 indefinitely,” Gardner said, noting that that was the age they died. “Justice will be served in her name,” he said.
“The best thing you’ve offered them is responsibility,” Judge Butts said, looking directly at Butler.
It has been over a year since the remains of Nicole and her sister Jasmine were discovered by authorities – their family continues to mourn the immeasurable loss.
In November 2021, the six- and four-year-old bodies were found buried in the courtyard of the Hepburn Township home that Butler had shared with Snyder.
Butler’s mother, Michele Butler, is also facing third-degree murder charges in connection with this case
Lycoming County District Attorney Gardner told PA the case was the most horrific he had ever faced.
“In all my years of practicing law, this is the most horrific case I have ever faced,” Gardner said.
“Two children who are repeatedly deliberately starved and tortured, resulting in their deaths, is a tragedy of epic proportions.
“It’s tragic for the surviving family members and it’s tragic for the community at large.”
Butler’s mother, Michele Butler, is also facing third-degree murder charges in connection with this case. Her father, Ronald Butler, is charged with child endangerment and disability.
In October, Snyder also pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder. Snyder told the judge that she worked with Butler to starve her two young daughters to death, but while collecting food stamps and cash assistance as if they were alive.
Snyder’s conviction has not been passed. The food stamps and cash assistance were not linked to Butler, according to the county’s public defense team.
Investigators believe, based on their work, that Nicole Snyder died and was buried in 2016, while her sister died and was buried in 2017.
Investigators believe, based on their work, that Nicole Snyder died and was buried in 2016, while her sister died and was buried in 2017
Joshua Snyder, Jasmine and Nicole’s father, said he hasn’t seen her since 2015
Judge Butts previously denied a motion to dismiss the child endangerment and obstruction of justice charges against Echo’s Hepburn Ward father, Ronald Butler, who told a friend he knew the girls were in danger and tried to feed them food smuggle to previous testimonies.
Michele L. Butler, Echo’s mother, served more than a year in prison on charges including third-degree murder.
She was granted special bail and planned to cooperate and plead guilty.
Meanwhile, fraudulently accepting the cash aid will be handed down concurrently with the first life sentence, Judge Butts said.
The girls were last seen by their father, Joshua Snyder, in 2015, and the last time they had contact with medical, judicial or other personnel was this year.
The remaining charges against Butler were dismissed, along with the aggravating circumstances, according to Gardner.
“One step is over,” a family member later told the media. ‘One down, three to go.’
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11662545/Pennsylvania-lesbian-jailed-life-helped-DELIBERATELY-starved-girlfriends-children.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490 Pennsylvania lesbian jailed for life after DELIBERATELY helping her friend’s kids starve her