Posthumous email reveals story of trader's suicide in court

 

Los Angeles

A disgraced former Wall Street trader, who collapsed and died in a Phoenix courtroom moments after being found guilty of an insurance scam, committed suicide using home-made cyanide capsules, police believe.

Michael Marin was facing between seven and 21 years in prison when he decided to end his life in dramatic fashion on 28 June. Courtroom video, shot by an Arizona TV station, shows him raising his hands to his face as the verdict is read out. On learning of his guilt, Marin appears to place a substance in his mouth and swallow.

A few minutes later, the 53 year-old financier, began convulsing and struggling to breathe. Then he collapsed. Despite the best efforts of onlookers to save him, he never regained consciousness, and was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.

Suspicions that the incident was a rare "in-the-dock" suicide appear to have been confirmed late on Monday, when a police spokesman said that Marin's adult son received a delayed-action email from his dead father "telling him that if things don't go good in court, Marin's wills are in place and his car can be found at a Mesa location".

When detectives searched the vehicle, they found a canister labelled sodium cyanide.

"We assume that Marin made capsules out of this toxic substance before coming to court," added the spokesman. He apparently purchased the chemical, used in mining and agriculture, over the internet last year.

A coroner is awaiting toxicology reports before officially ruling on the death. But the colourful nature of Marin's parting was at the very least in keeping with the high-profile manner in which he lived.

A Yale graduate and former Wall Street trader, who collected Picasso sketches, drove a Rolls Royce, flew his own plane and had scaled eight of the world's highest summits, including Everest, Marin was already a prominent member of Phoenix society when his vast home in the upscale Biltmore neighbourhood burned down in 2009. From his hospital bed, he told TV news crews how he'd escaped the smoke- filled property, which caught fire in the early hours of the morning, by using a mask and scuba tank which just happened to be in his bedroom, before climbing out of the window and down an emergency escape ladder.

Firemen who tackled the blaze weren't convinced, though. And when arson investigators arrived on the scene, they came to the conclusion that someone h ad deliberately set four small fires on the ground floor, using phone directories to ensure that the blaze spread around the building.

After it emerged that Marin had fallen into debt after buying the 10,000 sq ft property for more than $2m in 2008, prosecutors charged him with arson, saying that he hoped to collect an insurance payout from the disaster. Ironically, Jeff Peabody, the investigator who built their case, was the man who led the efforts to resuscitate him in court.

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