Would you marry the person who helped put you behind bars? One man, who is serving a life sentence, just married the woman who helped put him away.
Mary Martin is one of the 12 jurors who unanimously found Lester Butcher guilty of murdering James Steitler back in 2017. Today, Martin has plans to marry the very same man she helped imprison. “This is our life,” Martin told Texas ABC affiliate KTRE about her engagement. “We don’t want to hurt anybody else. We just want to be in love.”
Steitler was just 40 years old when police found him dead in his Nacogdoches County, Texas home. Steitler’s body had several gunshot wounds in his neck, shoulder and arm; and blunt impacts in the head and arm. Steitler’s mother told police that her son and Butcher disagreed over property and work that Butcher owed Steitler. A witness claimed they saw Butcher covered in blood, and someone else reported that Butcher bragged about killing Steitler to his brother.
Regardless, Martin says she wishes she never would have voted guilty in his case. “I had doubts, and I should have stood up and told them that, but I caved and did not do it,” she told KTRE. She also said this to Butcher in a letter she sent him on the day of his sentencing. “And I wrote back, ‘No, don’t worry about it. It’s not your fault. Don’t hate yourself. You tried your best. You did, you know,’” Butcher told the station.
The two wrote letters back and forth, and at one point Butcher told Martin he was innocent. Eventually, Martin drove four hours to meet with Butcher and proposed to him while he was serving time in the North Texas prison.
If they are granted permission to be married, this will be Martin’s second time being married to a prisoner. “I want to let everybody know I mean no disrespect to the victim’s family,” Martin said. “I hate to pull up these memories back up for them.”