Murder suspect's wife put on leave from teaching internship

Murder suspect's wife put on leave from teaching internship

March 12, 2007

6 News Anchor/Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) -- The wife of the 31-year-old suspect in the murder of a high school student has been put on "indefinite leave" from her teaching internship at West High School.

Erin McLean met the shooting victim, Sean Powell, 18, at the school. Powell was a senior there.

Powell was shot and killed Saturday night as he sat in his parked car outside the McLean's Coker Avenue home.

Police believe Erin McLean's husband, Eric McLean, 31, pulled the trigger. He's charged with first degree murder.

McLean's family says the father of two is well liked, smart and talented.

"Everybody liked Eric. He was a good father, an excellent father, good husband. He could do anything. He was in UT band," says Tanya McLean, the suspect's mother.

A University of Tennessee music major, McLean was nearing graduation. But the last five months had been difficult.

His wife, Erin, who also attended UT, started a teaching internship at West High School. That's where she met Sean Powell.

"She'd started an affair with him," says Norman McLean, the suspect's father. "There was alcohol involved, a lot. Eric loved his wife and tried to stop it, and it all culminated Saturday evening."

Eric McLean's parents say Saturday was the breaking point.

According to what he told his parents while in police custody, Powell had forced his way into the McLean house and refused to leave.

"Eric called 911 to get police help to get him out. He said from there it's all a blur, he doesn't remember what happened," Norman McLean says.

Police and witnesses say Powell was shot through the driver-side window. The bullet struck his head.

McLean's family says despite how it appears, their son was only trying to keep his family from falling apart.

According to UT's education department, Erin McLean has been placed on "indefinite leave" from that internship, pending an investigation.

Officials with UT and Knox County Schools say no complaints have been filed against her. And at this point they will not confirm whether they even suspect an inappropriate relationship.

6 News tried and failed to make contact with Erin McLean for comment.

Her husband, Eric, will face a judge for the first time Tuesday in Knox County felony sessions court.


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