American Slashes Own Throat, Dies In Taiwan Court After 4-Year Drug Sentence
An American who was convicted of growing marijuana in Taiwan slashed his own throat with scissors after he was sentenced to serve four years in prison.
Tyrel Martin Marhanka, 41, died at a hospital, officials said. Marhanka had said he didn’t want to appeal the decision, then said, “I don’t want to live anymore.”
He had been convicted of growing marijuana at his home in Changhua, in central Taiwan, and of importing marijuana and opium poppy seeds. A prison term of up to seven years was possible, but the court gave him a lesser sentence of four years because he had not sold marijuana and was growing it for his own use.
When a court interpreter told Mr. Marhanka the sentence, he replied, “Four years?” The Taipei Times reported, quoting witnesses. He said he did not want to appeal the decision.
“I don’t want to live any more,” he said, before taking out two metal objects, apparently a disassembled pair of scissors, and then cutting his neck, the newspaper reported.
The court said it felt “deep regret” at Mr. Marhanka’s death. An initial investigation found a magazine that he seemed to have used to conceal the scissors. A metal detector apparently did not uncover the scissors when he entered the building. The court said that the building did not have enough space for a more advanced scanner but that it would install X-ray machines in a new building.
Mr. Marahanka was not in detention before the hearing, and did not show any outward indications of suicidal impulses, the court said. Mr. Marhanka had a wife and two children in Taiwan and had lived there for several years. He had worked as an English teacher, but his neighbors said he lost his job after he was charged in the marijuana case, the Central News Agency reported.
His death is likely to raise questions about security standards in Taiwan’s judicial system. Last year, inmates in a prison in southern Taiwan used scissors from a workshop to take guards hostage.
They broke into a prison armory to seize firearms, which six of the inmates used to kill themselves, prompting calls for improved oversight.