In this Crime and Punishment investigation, Ed Lavendera takes an in-depth look at the peculiar case of Michael Marin. The eccentric 53-year-old collapsed last week in a Phoenix courtroom and later died in a hospital after he was convicted of burning down his 10,000 square foot, multi-million dollar mansion.
Marin was a few months away from owing lenders a payment of approximately $2 million when he destroyed his Biltmore Estate home in July 2009. The Phoenix Fire Department investigator who handled the case told Lavandera that he found four places in the house where fires were intentionally created. The investigator also said Marin escaped from his burning home wearing scuba gear, including an oxygen tank and snorkel, that just happened to be ready to go in his bedroom.
Moments after the jury found Marin guilty of arson, video shows him apparently swallowing a concealed substance shortly before his death. The sequence of events has led to much speculation as to whether he intentionally took his life, which police are investigating. Marin’s lawyer calls his client’s death “a gigantic shock.”
While suicide can only be confirmed by a pending toxicology report, Lavendera goes beyond Marin’s courtroom death and reports on his fall from the status of a high-paid Wall Street banker—equipped with a personal collection of Picasso artwork, a Rolls Royce and plane—to unemployed, unable to pay his mortgage, desperate to escape financial ruin through an alleged insurance scheme.
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