INSIDE EDITION spoke to the man who robbed Paula Deen at gunpoint decades ago, and now comes to her defense for the controversy over her racial slur.
Eugene Thomas King is the former bank robber who Paula Deen says she referred to using the N-word after he robbed her at gunpoint.
King was caught and sentenced to 25 years in prison after the Deen robbery and a separate robbery. He lives in Brooklyn, New York, now and when we spoke to him, he actually broke down in tears. He blames himself for Paula Deen's troubles.
"I really feel for her," King said. "She's being persecuted because of that one little mistake in her judgment. She was acting out of anger."
King had 13 prior convictions for robbery before he pointed a gun at Paula Deen. He says he's turned his life around.
But the Paula Deen empire is crashing down. More of her business partners are severing ties with her. JCPenney and Sears are the latest to jump ship.
And QVC, where the country cooking queen has sold cookware and recipe books for years, has dropped her as well.
"For now, we have decided to take a pause," the company said. "Paula won't be appearing on any upcoming broadcasts and we will phase out her product assortment on our online sales channels over the next few months."
QVC has, however, opened the door for a possible comeback saying, "People deserve second chances."
The man who precipitated it all says he feels responsible for Paula's demise.
"I regret that I pointed a gun at her," King said. "I wish there was a way to take it back."
At the time of the robbery in 1987, King apologized to Paula in his statement to police.
He wrote, "Please tell her I'm sorry, but I never intended to hurt anyone."
And he echoed that regret today.