A Texas man who was convicted of child sexual abuse chugged “cloudy” water as the verdict finding him guilty was read and died shortly after.
Edward Peter Leclair, 57, was found guilty on Thursday of five counts of child sexual abuse, all involving the same victim, who was between the age of 14 and 17.
Leclair had a large bottle that appeared to be water next to him, but did not drink it throughout the hearing.
As the guilty verdict was read, Leclair began to chug from the bottle.
“I looked over and noticed him drinking,” Leclair’s lawyer Mike Howard told NBC News. “His hand was shaking. At the time, I thought it was shaking because of the verdict. Then he kept drinking and drinking.”
“He chugged it,” prosecutor Jamie Beck told WFAA. “It wasn’t like he was just taking sips of water. He was literally throwing it back, so to speak.”
Leclair, a former Navy mechanic and corporate recruiter, was facing a sentence that could have ranged from probation to 100 years in prison.
“With charges like these, if they find a defendant guilty a very stiff punishment is certainly possible,” Howard said.
When he was taken back to a holding cell, Leclair began to vomit and emergency medical services were called.
“He was very much either dying or dead,” Beck told the Denton Record-Chronicle. “Once the ambulance came, they weren’t in a hurry. He was gray.”
Leclair was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead later that afternoon.
“We have had people who faint, have heart attacks and had a shooting, but never in my 27 years have we had something like this happen,” First Assistant Attorney Jamie Beck from the Denton County District Attorney’s Office, according to the Record-Chronicle report.
An autopsy has been ordered and the water bottle has been taken into evidence.
Leclair was on bond during the trial and therefore could have brought the water into the courtroom himself.