A former Wall Street trader convicted of setting his Phoenix mansion on fire in a desperate ploy to get out of his mortgage put his hands to his mouth – seemingly in shock – and collapsed after the verdict was read Thursday.
He later died, but authorities are wondering if the hand gesture was actually a final, preplanned act to poison himself, according to reports.
Michael Marin, 53, had just been found guilty of arson in Maricopa County Superior Court, a crime that could have put him away for nearly 16 years, the Arizona Republic reported.
About five minutes after learning his fate, a video showed him covering his mouth with his hands and swallowing, according to Fox 10 News in Phoenix.
He was also seen occasionally sipping from a sports-drink bottle.
Moments later, he turned and spoke to the people behind him and grabbed a tissue from a woman. He appeared as if he was sobbing, but his body twisted into violent convulsions.
Ten minutes later, Marin was put into an ambulance and taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead, according to reports.
A Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office spokesman confirmed to the Arizona Republic that police are investigating whether poison was the cause of death.
“They are leaning towards that. Obviously if you watch the video it looks like he does put something in his mouth,” Sheriff’s Office spokesman Jeff Sprong told Fox 10 News.
“We cannot verify that at this point and we’re not going to be able to until the toxicology report comes back” in two weeks, he added.
Even before the deadly turn of events, the arson case surrounding Marin, an Ivy League-educated father of four, exposed a man whose life was unraveling.
He had been described as someone with a taste for the finer things, collecting original Picasso sketches to put in his tony $3.5 million Biltmore Estates mansion. He was also an adventurer, who scaled Mount Everest in May 2009 and once bragged to a local Phoenix station about his $800 climbing shoes.
Marin’s home caught fire two months later.
FOX 10 News – Phoenix, AZ | KSAZ-TV
Prosecutors alleged it was no accident: He had fallen into serious debt and could no longer afford the $17,250 monthly mortgage payments. In addition, he stood to gain a $650,000 insurance claim, according to reports.
Fire fighters reportedly found Marin wearing a scuba tank and mask, and had apparently climbed down an emergency ladder on the second floor to escape.
Fire officials suspected that the early-morning inferno began in more than one place, and found flammable materials laid out around the house, the Arizona Republic reported. No one was hurt at the time, and it was discovered Marin had been living in another, smaller home at the time.