Shortly after a pedophile heard his guilty verdict, officers found him dead in his holding cell. It was only after checking his bottled water in the courtroom that investigators realized what had likely happened.
Edward Leclair, 57, was found guilty of five counts of the sexual assault of a child during a trial in Denton, Texas. Before he even had a chance to tell his defense attorney that he wanted to appeal his case, Leclair was found dead in his holding cell, leading investigators to question what caused the mysterious death.
CNN reports that Leclair had been convicted of the rape of a minor child and was listening to his verdict when he picked up a bottle of water at the defense’s station and began to chug it. It was only after he was hauled off to his cell to await sentencing that anyone noticed something was wrong.
As Edward Leclair was downing the entire bottle of water, an investigator noticed that the drink looked strange. Incredibly, his instinct was correct, but his warning came too late.
“As these verdicts were being read, he chugged a bottle of water he had at counsel table,” Denton County Assistant District Attorney Jamie Beck told CNN. “Our investigator noticed him chug the water,” Beck said, saying it appeared cloudy. “He told the bailiff he might want to go check on him. The bailiff did. He was unconscious in the holding cell.”
After having a “long drink from a water bottle” in the courtroom, Leclair, who was facing five counts of child sexual abuse relating to the same victim and had been free on bond until the verdict, began a rapid downward spiral before falling unconscious in his cell.
“Shortly after entering the holdover cell, he started vomiting, and emergency services were called,” Leclair’s defense attorney, Mike Howard, told CNN.
Although emergency medical professionals intervened, there was nothing they could do to save Leclair. He was pronounced dead at Medical City Denton Hospital upon arrival. An autopsy was scheduled to determine the cause of death, according to the Denton Record-Chronicle.
“This is something that obviously doesn’t happen very often,” Howard said. “The judge in her 30 years and probably between us (prosecution, too) 100-plus years, [we] have never come across anything like this. The question is whether the legal thing to do is … declare a mistrial and have [the charges] dismissed, or is there another possible way to proceed?”
In the wake of Leclair’s death, it is believed that the judge will declare a mistrial, leaving all sides feeling as though there was no closure.
“To a legal extent, it does prevent ultimate justice being done for all sides,” Howard said. “The alleged victim and Ed’s family won’t get to the ultimate conclusion.”
Leclair’s initial offense began after his victim posted an ad on Craigslist. The pair met up at a hotel and engaged in sexual intercourse. He then gave her $200 and she emailed him a nude photo of herself. After the encounter, the victim told Leclair that she was 14 years old. He continued to communicate with her for the purpose of sex.
Two years after the first encounter, Leclair’s girlfriend, Melody “Mel” Shae, stumbled upon his communication with the victim. According to the victim, Shea met up with the underage girl and threatened her. She allegedly told the victim that Leclair was “grooming her” and promised to help her. Shea reportedly drove the victim to the apartment she shared with Leclair, where an argument ensued between the couple. Leclair then returned the victim to the location where she had met Shae.
After the mother of the victim reported the assaults to the police, both Edward Leclair and Melody Shae were arrested. Shae was charged with failure to report a felony but the count was ultimately dropped.
“The complaining witness testified in court that the only reason the police were notified was due to Ms. Shae informing the complaining witness’s parents about the illicit relationship Mr. Leclair had with the complaining witness,” Shae’s attorney Case Cagle said.
Leclair was found guilty of heinous crimes and, as it appears, he didn’t want to receive justice on earth. Although the victim of his crimes will have to find closure in his sudden death, at least society will never have to worry about this dangerous individual again.