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American commits suicide on being given prison sentence (update)

2016/06/16 17:41:31

Blood stain outside the court room.

Taipei, June 16 (CNA) An American man died Thursday after slashing himself in the neck on hearing that he had been given a four-year prison sentence for narcotics possession by a district court in Changhua County, central Taiwan.

The man, identified as Tyrel Martin Marhanka, was pronounced dead at a hospital despite attempts to save his life.

He was 41 and is survived by a wife and two children.

Marhanka was indicted in March after he was arrested last April for growing opium poppies and cannabis in Changhua.

According to an investigation by Changhua district prosecutors, he began to grow opium poppies at a rented place in Changhua's Yongjing Township in February 2015 after bringing 800 opium poppy seeds into Taiwan from the United States in 2011.

Before that, he had begun to grow cannabis at another rented place in April 2013, using seeds he bought online from a British website, prosecutors said.

[Several of the 216 cannabis plants found in a rented house of the men (CNA photo April 15, 2015)]

After his arrest, Marhanka claimed he was growing the illegal plants for his own consumption and did not sell them for profit.

He was sentenced to four years in jail by the Changhua District Court Thursday.

Upon hearing the verdict, Marhanka took out a scissor blade hidden in his pocket and slashed his neck with it.

The presiding judges immediately had court police call an ambulance to rush him to the Yuanlin Christian Hospital, but he eventually succumbed to loss of blood.

Marhanka had been living in Changhua City with his Taiwanese wife and two children. He was an English teacher, while his wife teaches dance.

According to his neighbors, he lost his job after he was indicted and stayed home most of the time with his children. They were very surprised upon hearing of his suicide.

(By Wu Jhe-hao and Y.F. Low)