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Toxicology results for Massey could take weeks

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It is expected to be several weeks before a cause of death can be determined for a Watertown man who died two days after collapsing at the Jefferson County Court complex, where he was convicted Friday of sexually abusing a 12-year-old girl.

Jon K. Massey, 52, died Sunday evening at Samaritan Medical Center, where he was admitted Friday after ingesting a substance in the courtroom as the verdict was being read. A court employee saw Mr. Massey put his hand to his mouth as the first of four guilty verdicts was pronounced. Two law-enforcement sources who were not authorized to speak publicly about the matter told the Times on Monday that Mr. Massey said he had taken cyanide.

Sheriff John P. Burns said that an autopsy will be conducted, but that toxicology reports, which would be used to determine what Mr. Massey ingested, typically take about six weeks to complete. Vonnice L. Joels, the county’s medical investigator, said Mr. Massey’s body had been transferred to the Onondaga County Medical Examiner’s Office at the request of his mother so that an autopsy could be conducted there. Mrs. Joels said the procedure has been tentatively set for today.

Mr. Massey was free on bail throughout his trial, and was convicted and taken into custody about 30 minutes before he began exhibiting signs of distress on the sally port behind the court complex.

At the time, deputies were leading him to a patrol vehicle that was to take him to the Metro-Jefferson Public Safety Building. Judge Kim H. Martusewicz revoked his bail following the guilty verdict.

As Mr. Massey had posted bail, he was free to enter and leave the court complex as he wished throughout the trial, including during jury deliberations. Each time he re-entered the building, he would be subject to inspection by court officers.

David Bookstaver, spokesman for the state Office of Court Administration, said court security officers do not have the legal authority to search people entering court buildings without probable cause.

The officers employ X-ray machines and magnetometers to screen people entering the building, primarily for metal objects that can be used as weapons.

If the screening devices “alert” to the presence of metal, the officers then have probable cause to examine a person more thoroughly using a hand-held metal detector wand.

“We don’t, however, have the legal authority to be searching for an aspirin, antibiotics or prostate medicine, something the size of a fingernail,” Mr. Bookstaver said. “Even if we had the authority, we’d have to strip-search people. The lines would be out the door and there would be an outcry.”

Mr. Massey was facing a state prison sentence of five to 25 years. Sentencing had been scheduled for April 18.

A jury deliberated a total of about nine hours Thursday and Friday before ruling that Mr. Massey had repeatedly sexually abused his girlfriend’s daughter from September 2009 to April 2010 in Watertown.

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