An American citizen committed suicide in court last week after receiving a four-year sentence for possession of cannabis and opium.
The 41 year-old expatriate, Tyrel Martin Marhanka, used a pair of scissors, which he had separated into two blades and smuggled into court, to stab himself on both sides of the neck, according to the Taipei Times. Marhanka was transported to a nearby hospital and was pronounced dead soon after.
The American was charged with possession of cannabis and other narcotics in the spring of 2015 when authorities discovered nearly 400 marijuana plants, both cured and still growing, as well as 10 opium poppies in the house Marhanka rented.
Marhanka claimed that the plants were all part of a “hobby” for his own personal use, and apparently the authorities went with that story as the man was only charged with possession, as opposed to distribution. But possession still carries a harsh fine in Taiwan. The judge even went relatively easy on Marhanka, giving him a 4-year term when a 7-year sentence would have been allowed. But even 4 years were apparently too many for Marhanka.
Witnesses said that when the American heard the judge’s ruling, he said, “Four years?” A translator then told Marhanka that he could appeal the ruling, to which he said, “I don’t want to appeal.”
After yelling, “I don’t want to live anymore,” Marhanka punctured two arteries in his neck and began gushing blood in the courtroom. Bailiffs reportedly tried to stop the bleeding, but couldn’t prevent Marhanka’s death, which occurred less than 30 minutes after his arrival at the hospital.
Marhanka had lived in Taiwan for over 15 years and is survived by a Taiwanese wife and two children.
Photo via Flickr user Beth Cortez-Neavel