Arson trial for man who escaped fire in scuba gear wraps up

Posted: Updated:
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX -- Attorneys for Michael Marin say the former businessman, adventurer and artist is not the conniving sinister arsonist the state makes him out to be.

"A very, very sudden rush to judgment," said Defense attorney Lindsay Abramson. "A sudden rush to judgment on who Michael Marin is, why Michael does the things that he does and what happened that morning of July 5th." 

That was the day a fire broke out in Marin's Biltmore mansion. He managed to make it out safely by using a ladder, and was able to avoid breathing in smoke thanks to a scuba suit he says he found on his way out.

Prosecutors said this was not a narrow escape, but a well thought out plan.

"Michael Marin couldn't pay his mortgage, so he burned down his house," said Maricopa County attorney Chris Rapp.

Rapp argued that Marin took a major fall from financial grace leading up to that July. He was broke, in part because of that home, and he couldn't sell or refinance. Prosecutors believe the thought of a $650,000 insurance payout after a house fire was Marin's motive, and he used the ladder and scuba gear to protect himself as he set the fire.

"He puts on scuba equipment before climbing out. He makes a phone call to 911 before climbing out. That makes no sense at all," said Rapp.

But Marin's defense team asked the jury to look at the investigation. His attorney criticized the lead fire captain of a snap judgment of arson - one that would shape the case into a criminal charge against an innocent man.

"Your job is not to give Mr. Peabody the benefit of the doubt," she told the jury, referencing the lead fire investigator. "Quite the opposite. Your instructions tell you you are to give Michael the benefit of the doubt."

The judge expects the jury to get the case Wednesday