A South Carolina nurse poisoned her husband with Visine eye drops, by placing them into his drinking water to make him “uncomfortable.”
In the end, he fell gravely ill over the course of three excruciating days in July 2018, eventually dropping dead at the couple’s home in affluent Lake Wylie. His wife had hidden his phone, prosecutors said, so that he couldn’t call anyone for help.
Facing the death penalty if found guilty of murder, Lana Sue Clayton pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter.
“I did impulsively put the Visine in Steven’s drink, but I just did it to make him uncomfortable…” Clayton, 53, told the court, according to
“I never thought it would kill him.”
Prosecutors, though, never bought Clayton’s story, and said she killed her businessman husband Steven Clayton, 64, because she wanted to inherit his money.
It was initially believed Steven died after the fall at his home, but a toxicology report at autopsy showed levels of Tetrahydrozoline that would have been poisonous. Tetrahydrozoline is a treatment for red eyes, and can be fatal in high doses.
Prosectors dismissed Lana’s claims that she had been the victim, for years, of her husband’s abuse.
“Having destroyed Steven Clayton himself, Lana Sue Clayton comes to court trying to destroy his reputation,” said prosecutor Kevin Brackett. “He’s not here to say anything about it — because she killed him.”
In the end, Judge Paul Burch of the South Carolina Circuit Court agreed with the prosecution and sentenced Clayton to 25 years in prison, saying the case was the weirdest he had ever seen. He said that if Clayton was concerned about any spousal abuse, she could have left her husband instead of killing him.
“This one takes the cake as far as being bizarre,” the judge said. “The old saying, ‘What a tangled web we weave.’ Ms. Clayton, you sure have tangled this one up.”
Saying she couldn’t believe it when the drops ended up killing her husband, Clayton said she had tried to take her own life. “I could not live with myself,” she insisted.
However, admonishing the nurse further, the judge said:
“How can you maintain you did this to teach him a lesson, when it is obvious from the facts that you let him suffer for three days. You ignored him.”
Court proceedings outlined by the Herald detailed how the pair had been married five years, and that Steven Clayton had been married six times before meeting Lana. Prosecutors said she destroyed his will after killing him — knowing that if he had no will, she would be in for a windfall.
Remarkably, the couple had already made headlines before the July 2018 killing when, in 2016, Lana told police she had shot Steven in the back of the head with a crossbow. That was deemed an accident, and no charges were brought, the Washington Post reported.
“Steven Clayton was worth a lot of money,” the prosecutor Brackett said, according to the Herald. Clayton was reported to have had over a million dollars in assets at the time he died.
“She wanted his money … If there was no will, she would get it all.”
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