UPDATE 9/11/08 5:25 p.m.: KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) – A Knox County jury convicted Eric McLean of reckless homicide Thursday in the love-triangle killing of 18-year-old Sean Powell in March 2007.
It’s a verdict that may keep him out of jail.
It was a dramatic conclusion to a trial that gave jurors plenty of choices.
In the end, they said “guilty,” but reckless homicide is a major victory for the defense in this case, because McLean was indicted on a greater charge of first-degree premeditated murder.
After the verdict was read, Eric McLean told his attorney, Bruce Poston, "I want to give you a big hug."
McLean faced the possibility of life in prison, but now is looking at a maximum of two to four years in prison, and it’s possible he won’t have to serve any prison time at all.
“I just want to thank everybody for their good wishes and their prayers and their thoughts," McLean said.
Poston says he was more nervous than his client, as the jury spent 11 hours over two days, making its decision.
“ He was charged with first degree murder, I was scared all the way. But then I thought Eric did magnificently in showing who he is. He's Eric you can't fake that," Poston said.
This is clearly a disappointment to the prosecution that wanted a first or a second degree conviction. But they insist they were not surprised."
"It's always I think sad when you have a young man dead and another young man convicted of a felony. There's no joy in this kind of work But shocked, I don't think so," Assistant District Attorney General Bill Crabtree said.
Crabtree said, "We presented every bit of evidence that we had. So the jury not only had the offenses to consider, they also had all of the evidence to make that decision on, and I think that's what I am supposed to do. And then, once the decision is made, that's the law, that's what the jury's say."
Eric remains free on bond as he awaits sentencing in November. He could be sentenced to serve two to four years at 30 percent, but his lawyer says maybe not.
"The plan is that Eric will report to do his persistence report to apply for probation and they'll be a sentencing, and we take that very seriously. Remember someone died and this man will never forget that."
UPDATE 9/11/08 4:00 p.m.:
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT/AP) -- The Jury in the love-triangle murder trial of Eric McLean has found McLean guilty of reckless homicide in death of 18-year-old Sean Powell.
The jury had to return not guilty verdicts for first degree premeditated murder, second degree murder, and voluntary manslaughter before they could convict him of the lesser-included charge of reckless homicide.
The verdict returned Thursday means McLean faces a maximum of two to four years in prison, much less than the mandatory 51 years in prison for first-degree murder.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
UPDATE 9/11/08 12:45 p.m.: KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- The jury in the love-triangle murder trial of Eric McLean has asked Judge Mary Beth Liebowitz if they are allowed to talk about the parameters of lesser charges before jurors have voted on the first degree murder charge laid out in the indictment against McLean.
The jurors' question suggests that they are at least considering the possibility of applying a lesser included charge to McLean, whose attorney, Bruce Poston, has argued is not guilty of premeditated murder, and that manslaughter is a more fitting charge.
Attorney and Volunteer TV court reporter Rob Pratt says rules require that jurors vote on the primary charge and lesser included charges in order. However, Pratt says jurors are allowed to talk about other lesser charges even if a vote has not been taken on a greater charge.
Judge Liebowitz brought the jury back into the courtroom to reread part of the instructions that she gave them before deliberations started the previous day, but she did not offer any further interpretation of those instructions.
Earlier, the jury requested to dry fire the rifle in order to examine the tension on the trigger, which is something Pratt says would likely not be considered as part of the first degree murder charge.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP/ WVLT) -- A jury in the murder trial of a Knoxville teacher's husband accused of killing her student lover has asked the judge if it needs to be unanimous before considering a lesser charge.
Thirty-three-year-old Eric McLean is charged with first-degree murder in last year's shooting of 18-year-old Sean Powell, but he has testified it was an accident.
Defense attorney Bruce Poston says the jury asked the judge on Thursday about a lesser charge and whether the jurors could "dry fire" the rifle that killed the teen. The court said yes to both.
Volunteer TV court reporter Rob Pratt reports that the jury's request to dry fire the rifle came because they wanted to examine the tension on the trigger.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)