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Sheriff: Evidence points to suicide in courtroom for man convicted of arson

Maricopa County Sheriff via AP file

Michael Marin

Investigators believe a defendant killed himself in a Phoenix courtroom shortly after a jury found him guilty of arson, saying their theory is backed up by evidence that includes a canister labeled "cyanide" found in his vehicle more than a week after his death.

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio said Tuesday that the family of Michael Marin, 53, received a delayed email from Marin the night after his June 28 death in court. The email led investigators to the vehicle, where they found the canister. It was turned over to the medical examiner's office unopened.

Cari Gerchick, communications director for Maricopa County, said the medical examiner's office could not immediately confirm if the canister indeed contains cyanide. Gerchick said the medical examiner's office is still determining Marin's cause and manner of death.

The email also included information about his will in case things went poorly, Arpaio said.

After being convicted of deliberately burning down his $3.5 million Phoenix mansion, Marin collapsed in court and died.

At the time of his collapse, the judge was ordering that Marin be remanded into our custody, Capt. Brian Lee told Reuters.

"It's really sad," Arpaio said Tuesday, according to AZfamily.com.

"You have to feel bad for the family. I don't know why he did it," he added.

According to AZfamily.com, Arpaio said the poison was purchased for $68 from a California-based supplier in 2011 with Marin's personal credit card.

Video from inside the courtroom showed Marin putting his hands over his eyes after the guilty verdict was read and then covering his mouth with both hands.

Arizona man dies after arson conviction: police

AP Photo/Phoenix Fire Department

This July 2009 image provided by the Phoenix Fire Department shows the burned $3.5 million Phoenix mansion owned by Michael Marin.

Marin's mansion burned down in July 2009. "Marin couldn't pay his mortgage, so he burned down his house," the Arizona Republic newspaper quoted the prosecution as saying.

The newspaper reported that Marin barely escaped by climbing down a rope ladder from the second floor while wearing a scuba tank and diving mask to protect him from smoke inhalation.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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