• Taxpayers on hook for defense attorney of woman accused of killing husband with eye drops

    By: Stephanie Tinoco

    Updated:

    YORK COUNTY, S.C. - Lana Sue Clayton lived in a $1.2 million house on Lake Wylie.

    However, despite the lavish lifestyle, taxpayers will cover her legal defense.

    Clayton is accused of killing her husband, Steven Clayton, with eye drops in York County.

    Detectives said Clayton confessed to spiking her husband's water with tetrahydrozoline, the active ingredient in eye drops, over the summer, which eventually killed him.

    [Past coverage: Police: Wife accused of poisoning husband with eye drops may have tried to kill him before]

    “It’s a wild case. It's extraordinary in its rarity,” local attorney Bill Powers said. "You just don't hear or see these things even on a national basis."

    Powers and other attorneys not affiliated with the case are intrigued.

    “It's one of the most unique cases I've ever heard of," Powers said.

    Tetrahydrozoline works by constricting blood vessels, so it acts like a neurotoxin.

    Public records show the Claytons were married for more than four years and lived together on more than $1 million estate.

    However, South Carolina taxpayers are on the hook to pay for her defense lawyer.

    Before a public defender was assigned, attorney Gary Lemel helped determine that Clayton had no access to the $820,000 home or the lakefront property, which is worth another $385,000.

    "None of those assets were in her name or were accessible to her at this time,” Lemel said. "She basically owned nothing, and the current executors of the estate will not be providing her assistance in her defense."

    Powers said that isn’t rare.

    "Nationwide, it's probably not that unusual, but I suspect one of the defenses was that she had no motive because she had nothing to gain, no money."

    An alleged motive has yet to be released.

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