The mother of two dead girls testified at a preliminary hearing that she and her girlfriend purposefully starved the children to death. Marie S. Snyder, 32, hedged no words.
“We starved them so they would die,” she said during a preliminary hearing on Wednesday, according to WNEP.
Snyder and her girlfriend Echo L. Butler, 26, are charged in Pennsylvania with criminal homicide in the deaths of Marie’s daughters Nicole and Jasmine Snyder. The couple subjected the victims to abuse, with prosecutors and cops calling this case “the worst that they have seen.”
Echo’s mother Michele Butler faces charges including third-degree murder. Her father Ronald Butler is charged with child endangerment and obstruction for allegedly lying to child protective services.
Snyder and Michele Butler waived their preliminary hearings.
The girls’ mother testified Wednesday because she wanted to do something right for her daughters after not doing so when they were alive, Lycoming County District Attorney Ryan C. Gardner said, according to Staten Island Advance.
“I’m sorry about these fucking bitches,” Snyder allegedly wrote Echo Butler in a December 2015 letter. “If you want them gone, they’re gone.”
Investigators have said that Snyder told them that Butler didn’t like her daughters and wanted them out of the house.
Snyder testified on Wednesday that Nicole, who was 6, weighed less than five pounds at the time of her death, and Jasmine, who died at age 4, weighed less than a gallon of milk, according to WNEP. The girls moved into Butler’s Hepburn Township home in 2014, according to testimony.
Butler forced them to stand in a corner from wake up to bedtime, Snyder testified.
“She would hit them with a closed or open fist and tie their hands behind their backs with anything she could find,” she said.
Butler made the girls take cold baths, Snyder testified. She allegedly asserted they did not deserve hot water.
Snyder testified she and Butler only gave the girls a sip of water and a bite of cereal at a time, then began to starve them completely with the intention of them dying.
She admitted Nicole had a scar from where “I bashed her head into a wall.”
In the end, both girls were put in tote bags and buried in the backyard.
Robert A. Hoffa, an attorney for Echo Butler, argued there were no identified bodies or causes of death. He suggested his client did not meet the legal definition of a caregiver under her child endangerment charge, according to The Staten Island Advance.
Matthew W. Diemer, a lawyer for Ronald Butler, said his client living in the same home did not translate into a duty of care. There is no evidence he supervised the girls, Diemer said. DA Gardner said, however, that the elder Butler could make observations.
Jerry Lambe contributed to this report.
[Image via Old Lycoming Township Police Department]
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