South Carolina wife gets 25 years for killing husband with eye drops

Lana Sue Clayton administered poisonous amounts of eye drops to her husband, although she said that she only wanted to make him sick.

A South Carolina woman accused of killing her husband with eye drops in 2018 pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter Thursday and was sentenced to 25 years in prison.

Lana Sue Clayton was initially charged with murder and other counts in the poisoning of her husband, Stephen Delvalle Clayton, at their home in Clover in July of that year, NBC affiliate WCNC of Charlotte reported.

Stephen Delvalle Clayton died July 21, 2018, and an autopsy showed poisonous levels of tetrahydrozoline, a decongestant used to relieve redness in the eyes, in his body, the York County Sheriff’s Office has said.

Lana Clayton was arrested the next month and confessed to administering the substance without her husband's knowledge, the sheriff’s office has said.

"What a tangled web we weave," Judge Paul M. Burch said at Thursday’s court hearing, according to video from WCNC. "Ms. Clayton, you sure have tangled this one up."

"You let him suffer for three days," the judge said. The poisoning happened from July 19 to 21, the sheriff’s office has said.

Lana Clayton told the judge she did not intend to kill her husband and just wanted to make him sick, WCNC reported.

"After finding out the Visine was the cause of death, I attempted to take my life as well," she said in court. "I couldn’t live with the thought that I did such a terrible thing."

Stephen Clayton’s sister in court called Lana Clayton a “monster.”

Lana Clayton’s lawyers said she was a good person having worked as a Veterans Affairs nurse in Charlotte, The Associated Press reported.

The attorneys said Lana Clayton was abused as a child, raped on a military base and suffered post-traumatic stress disorder, according to the news agency.

Lana Clayton previously shot her husband in the back of the head with a crossbow in 2016, and at the time, she told police it was an accident, WCNC reported.

Years later she changed her story and claimed the couple got into an argument and that her husband had thrown something at her and that she fired the crossbow as she ran away, according to the station.

Clover is a town of around 5,000 in the northern part of the state, near the North Carolina border southwest of Charlotte.