Teacher's husband convicted in student death

September 11, 2008 2:43:27 PM PDT
A Tennessee teacher's husband charged with first-degree murder in the death of her student lover was convicted Thursday on a lesser charge of reckless homicide. Eric McLean, 33, faces a maximum of two to four years in prison in the shooting death of 18-year-old lover Sean Powell outside the McLeans' home in Knoxville.

McLean testified he only wanted to scare Powell away on March 10, 2007, when he approached him with a high-powered rifle. He said the teen grabbed the barrel, and as McLean pulled back with his finger on the trigger, the gun accidentally went off.

When the jury's verdict was read, McLean was shaking as he hugged his lawyer. He appeared relieved to have avoided a first-degree murder conviction, which carries a mandatory 51 years in prison.

The jury deliberated for about 11 hours over two days after hearing six days testimony on the disintegrating 10-year marriage of Eric and Erin McLean, and the three-month affair she had with Powell.

Prosecutors called it a premeditated killing that Eric McLean planned at least two weeks earlier when he stole the 30-caliber rifle and three bullets from his parents' house. Eric McLean said he took the gun and bullets to commit suicide.

Eric McLean's attorney portrayed Powell as "mature beyond his years" and said his client was a victim, too -- still in love with his wife and powerless in his own eyes to win her back.

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