GREENVILLE, S.C. (WNCN) — Prosecutors say a teacher told her former student that she loved him as he strangled her in a Greenville motel room.
Media outlets reported 23-year-old Darrin Eskew pleaded guilty but mentally ill to the March 2014 killing Wednesday and was sentenced to 31 years in prison.
Authorities say after strangling 39-year-old Laurie Patton, Eskew wrapped her body in a sheet and set it on fire. Eskew told detectives he set her on fire because “she simply would not die.”
The Greenville News reports that Eskew and Patton were in a relationship even though she was married and had two children. The pair had an argument, which led to the incident, Eskew says.
Patton of Travelers Rest, was a Special Education Resource Teacher at Berea Middle School since 2005.
Authorities say she once taught Eskew at Berea Middle School.
Patton, who is originally from South Carolina, moved to back to the state in 2011 from Pennsylvania where she received a Masters of Education in Special Education, according to her bio on the Berea Middle School website.
“I taught in the State College Area School District as an emotional support teacher (6-12 grades) for two years. I also have a BS in psychology from Wofford College and an Elementary Education teacher’s certification from Furman University. I have my national board certification as an exceptional needs specialist, as well,” she wrote on her school profile.
Eskew will have to serve all 31 years in prison, but his guilty but mentally ill plea will get him more mental health assistance in prison.
— WBTW and WSPA and The Associated Press contributed to this report