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Convicted Sex Offender May Have 'Chugged' Poison As His Guilty Verdict Read
Witnesses in the courtroom said Edward LeClair — who had stood trial on child sexual assault charges — "chugged" a bottle of what appeared to be cloudy water right after a jury found him guilty.
A Texas man is suspected of possibly killing himself upon hearing the jury return a guilty verdict against him in his sexual abuse trial.
Edward LeClair, 57, was charged with five counts of sexual assault against a child stemming from one or more incidents against a single victim back in 2016, according to the Denton Record-Chronicle. On Thursday, following a four-day trial, the Denton County jury found LeClair guilty on all counts.
Then LeClair took a “prolonged drink” from a large bottle that appeared to be filled with cloudy water.
First Assistant Criminal District Attorney Jamie Beck said everything seemed routine until LeClair drank the liquid as the judge read the verdict aloud, according to ABC Dallas affiliate WFAA.
“It’s during this process that he had a bottle of water with him at the counsel table, and he chugged it,” Beck stated. “It wasn’t like he was just taking sips of water. He was literally throwing it back, so to speak."
Judge Lee Gabriel, filling in for 16th District Court Judge Sherry Shipman, ordered bailiffs to take the defendant back to his holding cell, which is reportedly adjacent to the courtroom, according to the Chronicle. The jury had been excused, and parties were expected to discuss scheduling around LeClair’s sentencing hearing when a bailiff was notified that something was wrong with LeClair.
LeClair’s Dallas-based defense attorney, Mike Howard, told CNN that LeClair “started vomiting” before he lost consciousness in his holding cell.
“I saw him being taken out on the gurney,” Howard told the Chronicle. “His color and pallor didn’t look good. Gray… and then he was taken to the hospital.”
“He was very much dying or dead,” said Denton District Attorney Jamie Beck told the paper. “Once the ambulance came, they weren’t in a hurry. He was gray.”
Responders taking their time during such a medical emergency might be necessary to save a patient’s life, Denton Fire Department Battalion Chief David Boots told the outlet.
“We have protocols that we follow to give our patients the best chance of survival,” said Boots. “What may seem like a ‘lack of haste’ may actually be deliberate steps being taken in a protocol to increase survivability.”
Despite life-saving measures, LeClair was pronounced dead at an area hospital, according to Fox Dallas affiliate KDFW.
Beck said she’d seen her fair share of defendant’s reactions to guilty verdicts in the past but that even this was a first for her.
"We have people who faint, have heart attacks, and had a shooting,” Beck stated. “But never in my 27 years have we had something like this happen.”
Specifics about the crimes of which LeClair was convicted were slim, though his victim reportedly traveled by airplane to testify against him.
Edward LeClair’s cause and manner of death are pending following a postmortem examination with the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office, according to CNN.