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A man has died after chugging from a bottle as his verdict for being convicted of child sexual assault was read by a jury.
Edward Leclair, 57, was pronounced dead at a hospital in Texas after drinking an unidentified liquid on Thursday afternoon (11 August) at the 16th District Court of Denton County.
Leclair, a former Navy mechanic, faced 100 years in prison after being convicted of five counts of sexual assault on a person between the age of 14 and 17.
The jury announced their verdict after more than three hours of deliberation when Leclair began to down what was described as a ‘clear liquid’, according to his lawyer.
Mike Howard, who represented Leclair, explained the moment he first noticed his client drinking the liquid.
"I looked over and noticed him drinking," the lawyer said to NBC News. "His hand was shaking. At the time, I thought it was shaking because of the verdict. Then he kept drinking and drinking."
Howard also told the court that his client continued to say that he was innocent of all the allegations against him.
Speaking to the Denton Record-Chronicle, the assistant district attorney, Jamie Beck, described the liquid in Leclair's plastic water bottle as ‘cloudy’.
A postmortem has not yet confirmed what was in the liquid that the man had consumed.
In response to the man’s potential sentence, his lawyer said: "With charges like these, if they find a defendant guilty a very stiff punishment is certainly possible."
After Leclair consumed the liquid, he was transferred to a holding cell to await his sentencing.
Howard told how he was able to briefly speak to Leclair in the cell, and described him as being ‘dejected and in shell shock’.
After the man was returned to the courtroom to receive his sentence, he started to vomit.
The court proceedings were then ceased, with the jury being sent home. Beck told CNN that Leclair received ‘medical intervention’ in the courtroom, before he was transferred to a hospital nearby.
His lawyer said: "Forty-five minutes after the whole thing began, I was notified by the hospital that he'd been declared dead."
Howard added that he never noticed his client putting anything suspicious in his bottle, adding: "We weren't looking for that. Frankly, no one was looking for that."
NBC News reported that the jury was informed of Leclair's passing on Friday (12 August) and was reassured that his death was no fault of their own.
Leclair's cause of death is still yet to be determined by the Tarrant County medical examiner's office.
If you’ve been affected by any of these issues and want to speak to someone in confidence regarding the welfare of a child, contact the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000, 8am–10pm Monday to Friday, 9am–6pm weekends. If you are a child seeking advice and support, call Childline for free on 0800 1111.