A barmaid planning to marry a former prisoner who spent 23 years on Death Row has told how she won his heart – by agreeing to spend hours “locked up” with him.
Jessica Stubley, 23, said she understood how institutionalised her lover Nick Yarris, 51 had become and wanted to support him after they fell in love on Facebook.
Innocent Nick had faced the electric chair after being framed in 1982 for the rape and murder of a woman in his native Pennsylvania.
He spent 8,057 days behind bars – much of it in solitary confinement – before DNA evidence finally cleared him and he was released in 2004.
Nick then wrote a book about his life on Death Row called Seven Days To Live which barmaid Jessica was given to read one day by her boss.
Pretty Jessica, from Moulton, Lincs, was captivated by his harrowing story and sent him a message of support via Facebook.
She was astonished when Nick replied personally and told her he had moved to Britain where he was now divorced and living alone with his dogs.
The pair struck up an unlikely love – even though he had been on Death Row for EIGHT YEARS before she was even born.
They moved in together just two months after their first meeting and three years on are now planning to marry.
The couple say they now love to lock themselves in a small room where wrongfully-convicted Nick feels safe – and they play online scrabble.
And despite being forced out of her job as a barmaid at the Swan, in Moulton, Lincs., because of a disapproving boss, she still plans to marry Nick.
The 51-year-old proposed to Jessica in July 2010 and the couple are still saving up for their big day – which they plan to have in Hawaii.
Jessica says she has no doubt Nick is the love of her life because – despite his harrowing past – he is such a “fun guy” to be around.
She said: “When I first got together with him most people thought I was crazy.
“He is twice my age and has got more baggage than an airport but he makes me happy.
“There has been a lot to contend with – his past, and the age gap.
“Everybody has wanted to like him but there have been a lot of concerns.
“Nick doesn’t act his age. He acts a lot like somebody my age. We will go out together and he is up for a laugh.”
In 1981 Nick, then a 19 year-old drug addict and alcoholic, was arrested in a stolen car when he jumped a red light.
In the scuffle with police the officer’s gun went off and he was charged with attempted murder.
While in custody he read a newspaper report about the rape and murder of a young mum and decided to make up information about it in a bid to bargain his way out of jail.
He accused a man he thought was dead of beating, stabbing and raping 32-year-old Linda Craig in a churchyard on the borders of Pennsylvania.
But his plan backfired when he found himself accused of the crime and then tried and convicted on flimsy evidence and sentenced to death in 1982.
Nick spent the next 23 years fighting his conviction and was only freed when he became ill with hepatitis C and tests provided DNA evidence which cleared him.
He now works as a delivery driver for B&Q and says Jessica’s Lincolnshire house is now his home.
Philadelphia-born Nick said: “I couldn’t believe someone so lovely could risk having her own life blown apart to be in love with me.
“Her parents were worried and we had to go through a lot to be accepted but the support from her family since has been overwhelming.”