‘He has more baggage than an airport… but I love him’

Cleared death row inmate Nick Yarris, 51, and his new love Jess Stubley, 23
Cleared death row inmate Nick Yarris, 51, and his new love Jess Stubley, 23

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.

Nick and Jess at home in Spalding in Lincolnshire
Nick and Jess at home in Spalding in Lincolnshire. They plan to marry in Hawaii

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.”

Nick and Jess on holiday in Paris
Nick and Jess on holiday in Paris

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.”


  1. This story is actually getting a bit old now and considering the man was released from prison in 2004 and it was covered in the news then, why is this man and certainly why is this girl trying to revitalise a story which quite frankly is old news. Plenty of prisoners have been exonerated since and I am sure they are just as happy now and don’t need to publicise it every week! Sounds like a money making scheme to me!

  2. Although, I truly hope for the best for this guy, and hope he’s living a drug-free, law-abiding, wholesome life now, I gotta say this: This guy got 4 million dollars for his ordeal, from what I’ve read. Now he has a book and a movie. Wow. I know he didn’t deserve to be on death row, but he stole many cars, not just one, and deserved to be in prison for grand theft auto. Also, something about him…the stare, the glibness…I’m curious if he has a touch of psychopathy.

    • Watch his movie, you’ll understand he is a human person just like you and me.

      I’m happy he’s focused on making the most of the life he has now, instead of dwelling on the years he lost.

      As to the thefts, it was the 70’s or 80’s, cars had no security and were easy to steal, unless you lived back then, you can’t really judge. I’m pretty sure it was common. But he wasn’t arrested for stealing cars at first, he was framed for attempted murder by the officer who stopped him for passing a red light. To which he was pleaded not guilty, but by then, he was already a suspect on a brutal murder that he had nothing to do with.

      If it was you in his place, I wonder how you would feel for having the bad choices of your youth affect half of your life, the same way. It’s really easy to dehumanise people who we feel are different from us, but if you imagine yourself growing up the way he did, I think you’d more easily give him back his humanity.

    • I was very uneasy with his demeanor and glibness as well, but if he didn’t commit this crime, he shouldn’t have had to pay for it.
      With that said, I agree that he should be arrested for the car thefts – but in the end he got a much worse and sad experience. I hope he is doing well and keeps to himself for his and our good. As for car thefts being common and someone not being alive to judge, can we not judge the Salem Witch Trial because we weren’t there? Just a thought.

  3. I wish him many many years of happiness he is most deserving person who has learnt lessons in life through the toughest times. Hes a survivor, his time is now, he is needef to teach others.


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