Investigators await autopsy results in case of man who collapsed, died in court

Posted: Updated:
By Andrew Michalscheck By Andrew Michalscheck

PHOENIX -- Maricopa County Sheriff's Department detectives are continuing to investigate what caused a convicted arsonist to collapse in court and later die, and are trying to figure out if he in fact ingested some kind of poison.

Michael Marin, once a wealthy Valley businessman, was accused of burning down his Biltmore mansion in 2009 and seen fleeing the scene in a scuba suit. Moments after a jury delivered a guilty verdict on Thursday, Marin was caught on video appearing to put something in his mouth.

The video shows him appearing to swallow something again minutes later. Soon after that he collapsed and began convulsing and later died at an area hospital.

Jeff Sprong of MCSO said Friday investigators searched Marin's clothing and other belongings to see if he had any sort of poisonous substance on him,  but found nothing.

"They didn't find any evidence that was left of anything that he could have brought in that he could have taken," Sprong said.

He said investigators are also trying to get in contact with Marin's friends and family members to see if he hinted he might take his own life.

An autopsy and toxicology report from the Maricopa County Medical Examiner is expected to take at least one to two weeks.

"We still aren't ruling anything out at this point, it could have been that he had a heart attack we don't know until we do have the solid evidence on what exactly was in his system," Sprong said.

Marin was out of jail on bond during the trial, and if he did bring some sort of poison into the courtroom, there would have been no way for security to stop him.

"If he's not in custody they wouldn't search him more than they would search you or anyone else, they're looking for weapons and things that could be used against other people," said retired Maricopa County Superior Court judge Stephen Gerst.

Gerst, now a professor at the Phoenix School of Law, said everyone in the courtroom appeared to respond appropriately after Marin collapsed.

In the video of the incident, a Maricopa County Deputy is seen calling for help but does not administer medical aid.

Sprong said that is because Marin was still breathing, and because a fire investigator with medical expertise who was in the courtroom was also there.

"She did everything we trained her to do. If you do watch the video, the first thing she does is get on the radio, tell them there's an emergency going on and she summons help," Sprong said.