The cause of death for a Texas pedophile who died inside a courtroom last year has been determined to be a suicide by sodium nitrite. The local medical examiner’s office confirmed this finding.
Edward Leclair, 57, was facing trial in Denton, Texas, on five counts of sexual abuse when he drank from a water bottle filled with a cloudy liquid as the verdict was being read.
The Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed that Leclair died due to the toxic effects of sodium nitrite.
According to a statement by Denton County Assistant District Attorney Jamie Beck at the time of Leclair’s death, an investigator witnessed him consuming the liquid before being led away.
Beck told WFAA that while those in the courtroom thought his drink from the bottle was strange, they felt it was his way of dealing with the verdict.
When a bailiff was asked to check on Leclair, he was found unconscious in a holding cell.
“Shortly after entering the holdover cell, he started vomiting, and emergency services were called,” Leclair’s defense attorney Mike Howard said.
Howard said he saw Leclair take a “long drink from a water bottle” while listening to the verdict, but the attorney said he did not know what was in the bottle.
Leclair was taken to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Surveillance video from the Denton County courthouse shows Leclair purchasing the water bottle around 7 a.m., the New York Times reported.
While the jury deliberated for about three and a half hours, prosecutors believe Leclair slipped the chemicals into the water.
Howard told the Times that when Leclair realized he could be facing up to 100 years in prison, “he made the decision to do what he did at the last moment.”
“Had he waited another 30 seconds, he would have been in sheriff’s custody and not had access to that bottled water,” Howard said. “He wouldn’t have been able to. So, you know, I think he knew.”
Sodium nitrite is an oxidizing agent that is often used to preserve foods such as meat but more commonly kills people accidentally by causing low blood pressure and limiting oxygen flow in the body.
Former child actor Matthew Mindler took his own life in 2021 with a $15 bottle of sodium nitrite he purchased on Amazon at 19.
“Empire” actress Lindsey Pearlman, 43, also died by suicide after ingesting sodium nitrite in February 2022, according to a report from the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner’s Office.
In October, the families of two teenagers who committed suicide filed a lawsuit against Amazon, accusing the online giant of selling so-called “suicide kits” to teens that included sodium nitrite.
“This is different from them selling rope, knives, or other implements that can be used for death because there is no household use for [sodium nitrite] at the level of purity (98-99%) it sells it,” the families’ attorneys wrote in the suit.