Knoxville (WVLT) - A North Knoxville man says he didn't mean to kill a former West High School student, whom he believes, was having an affair with his wife.
Eric McLean's "not quite confession" came in an jail house interview Wednesday, broadcast on NBC's "Today" show Thursday morning.
Right about the same time, we learned that the woman at the center of this alleged love triangle, his wife Erin, was hospitalized after last week a drug overdose at the Nashville home where she and the couple's children have taken refuge since the killing twelve days ago.
As Volunteer TV's Gordon Boyd explains, Eric McLean's jailhouse interview has caught a number of folks by surprise, prosecutors especially, but you hear why his lawyer agreed to it and what the consequences could be.
"Everybody knows he did it. That's not gonna be the issue at trial. But what happened that night." Eric McLean's lawyer says it was worth the risk to explain why his client would shoot an unarmed teenager who showed up at his house and wouldn't leave.
But on that score, he doesn't let him get very far.
Saying Sean Powell seem to ignore his demands that he leave, even after a call to 911, but asked what happened in the seven minutes before wife Erin's 911 call, claiming he shot Sean.
Eric breaks down.
"It was important for the public to see this young man as I see him and know him," says Bruce Poston, McLean's attorney.
Eric later says he feels sorry for Sean Powell and his family, wishing that none of this had happened. That all of it is a total disaster
"I guess, if a defendant comes in and says I did it all, and here's where the gun is," Prosecutor John Gill says he can see little good ever coming of talking before trial.
But his office had little notice, and less ammo, to stop the interview. "That can be very misleading and confusing to jurors, who here information that's not under oath, that's not cross examined," Poston says. "When you get cases that are being tried in the media, you don't have that."
Which is why he won't talk about what police found when they searched Eric's house and his father's car last week.
But court documents show they include a letter to Erin, a letter from Eric to Sean, what may be Erin's diary, a computer hard drive and CD a set of Bed sheets, one of Sean's school papers and spent shell cases from a 30-30, the rifle believe used to kill Sean Powell.
"He's being tried in the media already we just were able to put the put the real person telling the real truth in terms of his emotions and his feelings," Poston says.
Reason enough, lawyer Bruce Poston says, he'd do it all over again.
And why prosecutor's prefer he not have the chance. "If it causes, for some reason, a change of venue in this case, it's gonna be very expensive for Knox County."
Neither Erin McLean, nor Sean Powell's family has returned phone calls.
Eric McLean's father tells WVLT that anybody who knows his son knows his expressions of sorrow are genuine, that the whole truth will come out at trial.
He and his wife are petitioning for custody of Eric's boys, their two grandchildren.
Right now, they're with Erin.