Since being found guilty of capital murder, Lester Butcher has been serving a life sentence without parole in prison. He is also in the process of planning a wedding with his fiancée, Mary Martin, one of the jury members who helped put him behind bars.
According to KTRE, Martin verbally told the judge that she agreed with the guilty verdict. However, after the trial she admitted that she started having doubts about Butcher's guilt as the trial progressed.
"I should have stood up and told them that, but I caved and did not do it,” said Martin.
Martin's guilty conscience led her to reach out to Butcher and apologize. In her first letter to Butcher, Martin wrote, "I'm juror number 10. Mary Martin. I'm so sorry. I need you to grasp how terribly hard this was for me."
Butcher replied back, "No, don’t worry about it. It’s not your fault. Don’t hate yourself. You tried your best. You did, you know."
After a few exchanged letters, an unlikely romance sparked between the juror and the felon. When Martin visited Butcher in prison for the first time, she proposed they get married. Butcher accepted.
This isn't Martin's first romantic encounter with an inmate. In fact, she was previously married to another prisoner, although he wasn't in the state prison system. According to KTRE, Martin believes her desire "unconventional" relationships stems from her troubling childhood.
"Most of my marriages were with men who were in TDC before, got out, and now some of them are back because of me, 'cause I turned them in for things they were doing," Martin said. "So, unfortunately this was the life cycle I was raised in. This is who I am today."
Her reasoning for being with Butcher is simple: he's someone she can write to that write her back. Their relationship has given her "a purpose" and "joy."
She said, "I have family now. And I know it’s ironic that it’s the family of man that I helped send to life without parole in prison, but that’s the way it is."
Martin and Butcher are planning on getting married later this month...providing they get approval from the warden.