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Texas man found guilty of child sexual assault drinks water during verdict reading, dies afterwards

Edward Leclair was facing 5 counts of child sexual assault related to one victim. While the judge read his verdict, he drank from a water bottle and died soon after.
Credit: Chris Sadeghi/WFAA

DENTON COUNTY, Texas — A Texas man on trial for child sexual assault who drank a mysterious liquid during his verdict died soon afterwards, according to the Denton County District Attorney’s Office.

Edward Peter Leclair, 57, was a Frisco man facing five counts of child sexual assault related to one victim. This offense happened in June and July of 2016, according to Denton County jail records.

Leclair was arrested in 2018 with a $30,000 bond, posting bond soon after. Jury selection had begun Monday at the Denton County Courts Building. The situation initially felt normal, according to First Assistant Attorney Jamie Beck from the Denton County District Attorney’s Office.

"The jury comes in and takes a seat," Beck said, describing how the incident started. "The defendant and his counsel stand. The jury hands the verdict to the judge, which she then starts to read."

Judge Lee Gabriel, who was sitting in for Judge Sherry Shipman in the 16th District Court, then started to read the verdict, which was that Leclair had been found guilty on all five counts of child sexual assault.

"It's during this process that he had a bottle of water with him at the counsel table, and he chugged it," Beck said. "It wasn't like he was just taking sips of water. He was literally throwing it back, so to speak."

Beck said Leclair hadn't been drinking from that bottle before that point.

While it was peculiar, Beck also said most of the people in the room didn't expect this to be a fatal situation, as it could have simply been nerves or the way Leclair decided to handle the situation.

Gabriel had Leclair taken back into custody and sent to a holding cell which Beck said is common practice. After that, the jury was escorted out of the courtroom so some paperwork could be taken care of.

It was then that one of the investigators in the courtroom told a bailiff that he go check on Leclair because of the unusual way he drank the water.

Leclair was found looking "gray," according to Beck, and was soon pronounced dead.

Beck said Leclair's water bottle has been taken in as evidence.

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