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Lawyer says client took cyanide pill in court to commit suicide after guilty verdict

Posted Mar 11, 2014 11:55 AM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Convicted of four felony counts concerning the sexual abuse of a 12-year-old girl, a 52-year-old man took a pill as the jury was being polled and collapsed within half an hour, his lawyer says.

Attorney Salvatore Piemonte said his client, Jon K. Massey, collapsed as he was being led out of the Watertown courtroom approximately half an hour after the Feb. 28 verdict. Massey told deputies he had taken a cyanide pill, reports the Post-Standard. He died two days later at a local hospital.

In a press release provided to the Watertown Daily Times, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department confirmed the comment but did not identify the substance Massey said he had taken:

“While a deputy and a New York state court officer escorted Massey from the court complex, he began to show signs of sickness and anxiety. Massey stated he had taken an undetermined substance directly after the verdict,” the release states.

A subsequent Watertown Daily Times story says unidentified sources confirmed Massey's cyanide comment, although the official cause of death isn't yet known. It also says courtroom security video appears to show him taking the pill.

"There were serious concerns that this situation could occur, but I had addressed them as best as I thought I could,” Piemonte told the Times, explaining that he had tried to take reasonable measures to prevent a possible suicide.

He also said he had not personally seen Massey take the pill and was unaware of any problem until he was called by a news reporter after his client's collapse.

Although cyanide can kill almost instantaneously if it is inhaled, ingesting it in tablet form slows the process of death and makes treatment possible.

Massey was expected to get prison time, although he had not yet been sentenced in the Watertown case.

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