A Texas man charged with five counts of child sexual assault died after a jury found him guilty and chugged down a bottle of liquid in court, his attorney said Friday. .
After the first count was read Thursday afternoon and a Denton County jury found him guilty, 57-year-old Edward Leclair was found dead from a plastic water bottle filled with what appeared to be a clear liquid. He started drinking, said attorney Mike Howard.
“I noticed him drinking,” said Howard. “His hands were shaking. At the time, I thought he was shaking with the sentence. Then he kept drinking.”
Assistant District Attorney Jamie Beck told the Denton Record Chronicle The liquid appeared “cloudy”. She did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
It is not clear what was in the Lucrea bottle.
Leclerc, a former Navy mechanic and corporate recruiter, was charged two years ago with five counts of sexually assaulting one person between the ages of 14 and 17.
The conviction was handed down after three-and-a-half hours of deliberation, with LeClaire facing a sentence that could extend to 100 years of probation, Howard said.
“With charges like this, if the defendant is found guilty, very severe punishment is certainly possible,” Howard said.
Leclair was out on bail during the trial and was not subject to the same restrictions as those in custody, his attorney said.
Howard said he drank most of the contents of the bottle before being sent back to his cell to await sentencing.
While waiting there, Howard briefly spoke with the client. LeClair “looked dejected and shell-shocked. It’s everything you’d expect,” Howard said.
A few minutes later, back in court, a bailiff said LeClair was throwing up, Howard said.
“Forty-five minutes after it all started, I got a call from the hospital saying he was dead,” Howard said.
Jurors returned on Friday and were told of Luclaire’s death. They were told it wasn’t their fault, he said.
The Tarrant County coroner’s office will determine the cause of death.
The Denton County Sheriff’s Office and the Texas Department of Public Safety did not respond to requests for comment.
Howard said he never saw LeClaire, who he described as being “thoughtfully” and actively involved in his defense, put anything in the bottle.
However, he added: “We weren’t looking for it. Frankly, nobody was looking for it.”