Found guilty at trial, Texas man drinks cloudy liquid and dies | Crime-and-courts

DALLAS — A man who drank from a water bottle after his guilty verdict in a Denton County courtroom Thursday was taken to hospital and later died, according to his defense attorney.

Edward Peter Leclair, 57, of Frisco, faced five counts of child sexual assault related to an incident in June 2016, jail records show. He was arrested in July 2018 and later posted bond.

Leclair’s defense attorney, Mike Howard, who represented Leclair throughout the case, said this week’s trial began with jury selection on Monday.

Closing arguments were presented Thursday morning and jurors began deliberating shortly after 10 a.m., Howard said.

After 3½ hours of deliberation, the jury found Leclair guilty on all five counts.

Throughout the trial, Howard said, Leclair drank from a clear plastic water bottle. Thursday, after the announcement of the first two guilty verdicts, Howard noticed that Leclair had drunk a “long drink” from the bottle.

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Denton County District Attorney Jamie Beck told the Denton Record-Chronicle that the water bottle was filled with “cloudy” liquid. Howard said he didn’t see if the liquid was cloudy, but was told that at least two people in the courtroom noticed it was cloudy or yellow, like lemonade.

Following the verdict, Leclair was taken into custody and sent to a holding cell ahead of the punitive phase of the trial. He faces up to 100 years in prison.

Howard said he entered the holding cell to discuss next steps with Leclair, who appeared to be “in shock.”

“He came across as you would imagine anyone who had just received some very serious, sobering news,” Howard said.

After Howard left the cell to speak to a witness, he said he heard a racket and bailiffs said Leclair had been vomiting for several minutes. EMS personnel arrived about 10 minutes later, Howard said, and Leclair was placed on a stretcher and taken to the hospital.

Howard said Leclair looked “visibly gray.”

“I thought at the time that it was very serious and there was a good chance he wouldn’t survive,” he said.

Leclair’s water bottle was collected as evidence, the Denton Record-Chronicle reported.

His cause of death has not been determined by the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Howard said he was unaware of any medical history that could have led to Leclair’s death.

Elna M. Lemons