A BRITISH mum has told how she split with her boyfriend of two years – because she’s fallen for a murderer on death row.
Katie Menham, 25, has exchanged ‘dozens’ of letters with convicted killer Julius Bradford since January and is now fighting to get him a retrial so they can be together.
The 31-year-old, who was found guilty of first-degree murder and attempted robbery, has been awaiting execution in High Desert State Prison, Nevada, USA, since 2004.
In court it emerged he and two cohorts had ambushed a 48-year-old father of seven, attacked him and attempted to rob him before shooting him dead.
But Katie, a counselling and psychotherapy student from Malmesbury, Wiltshire, believes Bradford is a “good person” and would be happy for him to meet her four-year-old son Alfie.
She explained: “I never thought you could have such a strong bond with someone you have never met but this is really special. I can’t explain it but it’s so powerful.
“Nothing would make me happier than for him to win his appeal so we can meet face to face and let our relationship grow into love and marriage.
“I don’t expect everyone to understand it and I’m not condoning Julius’ crimes, but I take people as I find them – and what I see is an intelligent, thoughtful person who got into the wrong crowd as a teen.”
Katie met Bradford through a pen pal service for death row inmates called WriteAPrisoner.com.
She had decided to write to a death row inmate after watching an American prison documentary in January, despite the reservations of her engineer boyfriend Ben, 24.
Katie recalled: “He told me it would be dangerous to make contact with a killer, and said he didn’t want me to get involved with someone like that.
“I’m quite an open-minded and accepting person while my boyfriend was a bit more suspicious, so I just put it down to our differences.
“But my parents understood what I was trying to do. They said it was typical of me – trying to help someone in a rubbish situation.”
Speaking of her response to Bradford’s convictions, Katie said: “I wasn’t shocked as I knew that whichever Death Row inmate I wrote to would have committed a serious crime.
“But I read how Julius hadn’t been the one to actually pull the trigger, which to me made all the difference.
“He’d gotten involved with gangs at an early age and I suspected he hadn’t had much home support and had fallen in with the wrong crowd.
“Looking at his photo, I saw pain in his eyes and I wanted to help.”
Katie submitted the address of the home she shares with Alfie and sent her first letter to Bradford that month.
Three weeks later, a reply landed on her doormat.
She said: “It arrived covered in stamps from the prison and I was so nervous I just stared at it for two hours.
“When I finally opened it I saw loads of smiley faces on the page and I burst into tears – it was so emotional.
“I was overwhelmed by his articulate and thoughtful response, and flattered he felt able to confide in me.
“Once I started writing my reply the next day, I found myself telling him things I’d normally never tell a stranger.”
By March, the pair were exchanging notes thick and fast, which Katie hid under her bed so she would not be found out.
By mid-March, she was living in fear of Bradford being given an execution date.
Katie said: “By then, it felt like I’d known him for years and the thought of losing him was terrifying. It was easy to forget he was a convicted criminal when we were writing – then suddenly I’d remember he was on death row and panic he’d be taken from me.
“Some nights I lay awake and thought about him alone in that cell and it broke my heart.”
That same month, Bradford offered to pay a $25 fee (£17.23) from his allowance to speed up the prison’s letter vetting process, meaning the pair would receive word from each other more quickly.
Katie said: “By then I was sending him stuff whenever I thought of him, be it silly notes or long, rambling letters.”