Lawyer asked court to detain client before suicide but, lacking authority, judge said no

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Wylie David Chambers had only one misdemeanor conviction on his record, back in the 1970s.

But the government had a strong case against him as he was on trial in Florida in an aggravated assault case earlier this month, and it looked like he might be convicted and sent to prison. Previously, he had turned down a plea bargain that would have required him to agree to a three-year prison term for allegedly pointing a gun at two female relatives and firing a shot into the ground, reports the Gainesville Sun.

Chambers was unusually upset about the prospect of going to prison, said his lawyer, Charles Holloman. During a lunch break on July 8, the 57-year-old defendant shot himself to death near his car, in the downtown Ocala courthouse parking garage.

The courthouse was briefly placed on lockdown. When the jurors came back from lunch, Circuit Judge Hale Stancil explained what had happened, reports the Sun, which obtained a video recording of the jurist’s comments.

“Mr. Holloman was concerned about him apparently. He told me to tell him not to leave the courthouse,” Stancil told the jury. However, there was no legitimate legal basis to detain Chambers.

“I couldn’t remand him,” the judge said. “I mean, he was out of jail on bond, which he has a legal right to be. … I did tell him not to leave—make sure he was back here on time when the trial started back. I didn’t tell him he couldn’t leave the courthouse because we had not revoked his bond.

“Now, his bond could have been revoked under certain conditions,” the judge continued, “but there was no real reason in this case to revoke the bond.”

Due to his suicide, Chambers will not be convicted: Prosecutor Timothy McCourt said he routinely files an abatement when a defendant dies, reports the Ocala Star-Banner.