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Judge: This Case 'Takes the Cake as Far as Being Bizarre'

SC woman admits killing husband with eye drops
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 17, 2020 1:59 AM CST
Updated Jan 17, 2020 6:30 AM CST

(Newser) – Lana Sue Clayton claimed she poisoned her husband with Visine eye drops to make him "uncomfortable" and teach him a lesson after years of abuse. Prosecutors said the 53-year-old grandmother—who hid husband Steven Clayton's phone while he was dying—killed the wealthy retired businessman because she wanted his money. Clayton, a Veterans Affairs nurse, pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in South Carolina Thursday and was sentenced to 25 years in prison, the Herald reports. She had been charged with murder and could have gotten the death penalty if the case went to trial. Prosecutors said Steven Clayton, 64, suffered for three days in July 2018 after his wife of five years poisoned his drinking water. He was killed by a large final dose. Clayton claimed she poisoned him "impulsively" and never thought the eye drops would kill him.

"This one takes the cake as far as being bizarre," Judge Paul Burch said. "The old saying, ‘What a tangled web we weave.' Ms. Clayton, you sure have tangled this one up." Prosecutors said Clayton destroyed her husband's will to make sure all of his estate went to her and not any of his six ex-wives. Prosecutor Willy Thompson told the court that the type of poison Clayton used isn't normally tested for during autopsies, but was found by a private lab. "She almost got away with it," he said. WCNC reports that Clayton shot her husband in the back of the head with a crossbow two years before the poisoning and claimed it was an accident. (A North Carolina man is accused of using eye drops to kill his wife.)

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