For a former Wall Street millionaire-turned-arsonist, a lengthy prison sentence was truly a fate ‘worse than death.’
Click on "next" at the bottom right for the YouTube video of the courtroom ordeal.
A convoluted home arson case dating back to 2009 ended in tragedy late last week, when Michael Marin chose to end his life rather than face social ostracism and between 7 and 21 years in prison.
Upon hearing a guilty verdict, the 53-year-old father of four swallowed a pill and started convulsing on the courtroom floor shortly thereafter. Although officials rushed to his aid and attempted to resuscitate him, Marin was dead within minutes.
On Top of the World
Marin’s fall from grace was dramatic. Years ago while working as a Wall Street trader, he owned original Picassos and a 10,000-square-foot mansion in a posh enclave of Phoenix, Ariz. Marin spoke of his charmed life on Facebook, where he posted that he had scaled six of the world’s seven tallest mountains.
But the millionaire attorney became a desperate man when, like many Americans crippled by recession, he fell behind on mortgage payments and depleted savings. At the time of the suspicious blaze for which Marin was prosecuted, he had $50 in his bank account, which was down from $900,000 a year prior.
Despite an apparent lack of cash flow, Marin contended with massive financial obligations, including a monthly mortgage payment of over $17,000, along with a $2,500 monthly payment on another home and a $34,000 tax bill. Additionally, a balloon payment of $2.3 million on his mortgage was due.
When Marin emerged from his burning palatial estate in scuba gear on July 5, 2009, investigators were more than a little leery. Marin claimed to have escaped the unexpected blaze using a rope ladder and wearing scuba equipment to avoid smoke inhalation.
Fire investigators later determined that the fire was deliberately ignited. Armed with this information and clues as to a possible motive, authorities arrested Marin, whom a jury found guilty of one felony count of “arson of an occupied structure” on June 28, 2012.
By many accounts, Marin’s prison sentence (7 to 21 years) seemed harsh, given the fact that no one else was present at the time of the fire (and thus not endangered). Of course, Marin may have negotiated a shorter sentence, had an earlier plea deal been carried to fruition.
His Swan Song
There is speculation that Marin consumed cyanide or some other poison. On Friday, June 29, an autopsy was underway to test for the presence of poison(s), but results are not expected for months.
The YouTube video above shows the courtroom ordeal and the dying man's last breath.