Moments after hearing a “guilty” verdict convicting former Wall Street trader and banker Michael Marin of arson for setting his mansion on fire, the cash-strapped defendant cupped his hands over his face and then collapsed.
He later died from what authorities have speculated may have been a deadly dose of poison in a suicide ploy to avoid prison.
After the verdict was read, the one-time high roller, age 53, turned to friends in the courtroom. As he did, he coughed. A woman handed him a tissue and Marin bent over in his seat and went into violent convulsions, a scene played out in video from the courtroom aired by Fox 10 News. Marin collapsed onto the floor.
In 2009, Marin was discovered by firefighters outside his burning mansion wearing scuba gear. He had escaped from a second-floor bedroom of the home he’d bought in the ritzy Biltmore Estates neighborhood of Phoenix, Arizona.
When boxes of flammable debris placed throughout the house were discovered, as well as evidence that Marin, a Yale graduate, had lost the small fortune he had earned and could no longer afford house payments, he was charged with arson. He faced nearly 16 years in a state prison if convicted.
“Michael Marin couldn’t pay his mortgage, so he burned down his house,” Deputy Maricopa County Attorney Chris Rapp told the jury in his opening statement in the May trial.
Fast forward to Thursday afternoon when Marin, with his attorneys, was called to the Maricopa County Superior Court to learn his fate. The video showed Marin removing a sports drink from his briefcase and drinking from it after he sat down at the defense table to hear the verdict.
“We the jury,” the foreman told the court, “duly impaneled and sworn in the above entitled action upon our oath, do find the defendant Michael James Marin guilty of arson of an occupied structure.”
With that, Marin dropped his head in his cupped hands and appeared to place something in his mouth. About 5 minutes later, he appeared to put something in his mouth again, and then he drank from the bottle.
After he collapsed into convulsions and fell into unconsciousness, paramedics were called and they took him to a local hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.
From the video, it appears Marin committed suicide. But toxicology test results by the medical examiner, which could take up to six weeks, will reveal exactly what Marin took in the Arizona courtroom that ended his life in a very public way.