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Pennsylvania lesbian jailed for life after deliberately helping friend’s starving children

A Pennsylvania woman will serve two life sentences after pleading guilty to charges related to the willful starvation and death of her friend’s daughters who were found buried in the garden in 2021.

Echo Butler, 27, pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder of her friend’s two young daughters, Nicole, 6, and Jasmine, 4, Friday night in Lycoming County Court.

Butler will serve sentence without the possibility of parole on Marie Snyder, 33, the girls’ birth mother, who also entered a guilty plea on Oct. 31 to two charges of conspiracy to commit criminal murder, robbery by fraud and food stamp fraud.

Both women allegedly subjected the young girls to intense physical and verbal abuse, coercion and starvation during their short lives, according to a preliminary hearing in the case on March 16.

Echo Butler, 27

Echo Butler, 27

Marie Snyder, 32 (left), and her partner, Echo Butler, 26 (right), both pleaded guilty to charges related to the willful starvation and death 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

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

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, acknowledging her role in the murder plot.

“What you took from us cannot be expressed in words,” Giselle Blank, the girls’ great-great-aunt, told the Sun Gazette.

Comparing a life sentence as lenient to what “you made my cousins ​​suffer,” Blank broke down in tears during Friday’s trial.

District Attorney Ryan Gardner would have sought the death penalty for Butler if she decided to take her case to trial and be convicted.

In the packed courtroom, Judge Butts laid out the facts of the case based on the evidence gathered, asking Butler if she had deliberately conspired with Snyder to kill the girls between January 1, 2015, and November 6, 2021.

Intentional homicide is described as intentional, intentional and premeditated.

Both women allegedly subjected the young girls to intense physical and verbal abuse, coercion and starvation during their short lives, according to a preliminary hearing in the case on March 16.

Both women allegedly subjected the young girls to intense physical and verbal abuse, coercion and starvation during their short lives, according to a preliminary hearing in the case on March 16.

Both women allegedly subjected the young girls to intense physical and verbal abuse, coercion and starvation during their short lives, according to a preliminary hearing in the case on March 16.

Butler will serve sentences without the possibility of parole with Snyder, who also entered a guilty plea on Oct. 31 to two charges of conspiracy to commit criminal murder, larceny by deception and food stamp fraud.

Butler will serve sentences without the possibility of parole with Snyder, who also entered a guilty plea on Oct. 31 to two charges of conspiracy to commit criminal murder, larceny by deception and food stamp fraud.

Butler will serve sentences without the possibility of parole with Snyder, who also entered a guilty plea on Oct. 31 to two charges of conspiracy to commit criminal murder, larceny by deception and food stamp fraud.

“Did you feed them?” Butts asked Butler. “I don’t think so,” Butler replied softly.

Judge Butts asked if the girls had been punished and read an earlier piece of information claiming they had been thrown against the wall, Hoffa disputed that fact.

The judge then clarified her statement asking if the girls had been punished by having to stand in a corner with their hands tied behind their backs watching others eat – Butler acknowledged that this had happened.

The court heard that the girls became visibly thin, pale and lost hair as part of a deliberate form of torture and deliberate act of starvation that investigators say led to their deaths.

Gardner said once police learned of this, they responded quickly, praising the combined efforts of the former Old Lycoming Township Police Department, state police, FBI and detectives. The former department has since become Lycoming Regional Police.

“Two precious souls never got a chance at life,” Gardner said, holding up an image of a framed photo of the girls, which 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

Police found the girls' bodies buried in two-foot-deep graves in the backyard of Snyder and Butler's home

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

Snyder and Butler lived with Butler's parents in this trailer on Livermore Road

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 those were the ages they died. “Justice is done on their behalf,” he said.

“The nicest act you’ve offered them is to accept responsibility,” Judge Butts said, looking directly at Butler.

It’s 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 bodies aged six and four were found buried in the yard of the Hepburn Township home that Butler shared with Snyder.

Butler's mother, Michele Butler, is also charged with manslaughter in this case

Butler's mother, Michele Butler, is also charged with manslaughter in this case

Butler’s mother, Michele Butler, is also charged with manslaughter in this case

Gardner, the Lycoming County District Attorney, told PA the case was the most horrific he had ever faced.

“In all the years I’ve been a practicing attorney, this is the most horrific case I’ve ever seen,” said Gardner.

“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 charged with manslaughter in this case. Her father, Ronald Butler, is charged with child endangerment and obstruction.

In October, Snyder also pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder. Snyder told the judge she went with Butler in a plot to starve her two young daughters, but while collecting food stamps and monetary aid as if they were alive.

Snyder’s sentencing did not take place. The food stamps and cash aid were not connected to Butler, according to the county’s public defense team.

Based on their work, researchers believe that Nicole Snyder died and was buried in 2016, while her sister died and was buried in 2017.

Jasmine, 4 plays in the snow

Jasmine, 4 plays in the snow

Nicole 6, posing for a picture in a house

Nicole 6, posing for a picture in a house

Researchers 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 had not seen them since 2015

Joshua Snyder, Jasmine and Nicole's father, said he had not seen them since 2015

Joshua Snyder, Jasmine and Nicole’s father, said he had not seen them since 2015

Judge Butts previously denied a motion to dismiss child welfare endangerment and obstruction of justice charges against Echo’s father, Ronald Butler, of Hepburn Township. to previous testimonials.

Michele L. Butler, Echo’s mother, served more than a year in prison on charges including third-degree murder.

She was approved for specialized bail and planned to cooperate and plead guilty.

Meanwhile, the fraudulent acceptance of the monetary assistance runs 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 that year.

According to Gardner, the remaining charges against Butler were dismissed, as were the aggravating circumstances.

“One step is over,” a family member told the media afterwards. “One down, three to go.”

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