KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Friday marks 10 years since a scandalous homicide case involving a love triangle captured the attention of the Knoxville community and beyond. The outcome of the trial and his conviction stunned a lot of people.
“He shot him with a shotgun, Hurry, hurry!”
It was a tragic ending to the love triangle involving Erin McLean, her 18-year-old troubled lover Sean Powell and her husband Eric McLean. Powell was shot in the face and killed in his car outside the McLean home on a Saturday in March 2007.
“He was murdered in cold blood,” Powell’s biological mother, Debra Flynn, said.
Eric McLean, then 31 years old, was charged with first degree murder, but during his weeklong trial in 2008, the story behind the shooting unfolded. The McLeans had an open marriage.
Erin McLean was seen as a wild woman, trying to force her husband into a sexual lifestyle he didn’t want. And the other man, Erin McLean’s lover, didn’t keep the affair secret. Juror, Patricia Kerschieter, said Powell “just seemed like he taunted Mr. Mclean, just kept rubbing his nose in it or whatever.”
After serving on the jury, Kerschieter still believes 10 years later, Eric McLean was the only redeeming character in this case. “This guy is breaking up his home and I really felt sorry for him. I know the boy, he didn’t deserve to die but he didn’t need to be doing what he was doing either,” Kerschieter said.
Brandy Slaybaugh, Erin McLean’s divorce lawyer, said her client was misunderstood, suffered from PTSD after witnessing the shooting, and was in no shape to take the stand.
“She was so toxic by the time he went to trial they didn’t subpoena her to testify. She didn’t testify,” Slaybaugh said. “It was like they put her in the electric chair. At the same time I was seeing people cheer someone who pulled the trigger and shot someone in the face. I never could grasp it. I can’t grasp it right now.”
The teen victim, Powell, was ward of the state that only had one voice of support, his foster mother who was in the courtroom. “You know, he never had a chance but then again he pushed it,” Kerschieter said.
The jury was unanimous on a decision that shocked many in the community. He was found guilty of reckless homicide.
WATE 6 On Your Side legal analyst Greg Isaacs believes that no one knows, but Eric McLean, who pulled that trigger and what his intent was. “That could have easily been a second degree case, a voluntary manslaughter case, but remarkably reckless homicide.”
Erin McLean never appeared at her then-husband’s trial. She was taken away in handcuffs during a custody hearing, sentenced to 90 days in jail, after being accused of taking the couples’ sons out of state without permission.
She got more time than Eric McLean who ended up serving only 47 days for the death of Powell.
“The death is going to haunt me forever and I’m just really sorry. I don’t know what to say,” Eric McLean said.
Defense attorney Bruce Poston died in a car crash in 2014.
WATE 6 On Your Side contacted Eric McLean who said he’s currently doing well. The couple’s boys are almost grown and they live in Lenoir City. The youngest is in high school. Erin McLean is currently in Texas where she is a freelance writer. She was not available for comment.
Sean Powell’s foster mother also declined a request for an interview.