Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Man Commits Suicide in Court After Guilty Verdict

Steve Parsons

Steve Parsons

In an incident eerily similar to the courtroom suicide of Michael Marin one year ago, a Missouri man killed himself in the courtroom after receiving a guilty verdict this week.

Steve Parsons, 48, was on trial on July 1, 2013, for the sexual assault of a girl, 14, facing charges of forcible sodomy and statutory sodomy. According the website Sodomy.org, in Missouri sodomy is usually a class B felony described as “any sexual act involving the genitals of one person and the mouth, tongue, hand or anus of another person.” Forcible sodomy is any deviate sexual intercourse with an unmarried person without their consent and includes any “deviate sexual intercourse with another person who is less than fourteen years old.” Parsons faced a sentence of anywhere from five years to life in prison.

The jury ruled that Parsons was not guilty of forcible sodomy, but did find the well-known local business owner guilty of statutory sodomy with the underage girl. After the verdict was read, Nodaway County Sheriff Darren White, who was seated near Parsons described the incident for reporters, “As the judge was polling the jury, Mr. Parsons stood up, walked to where I was seated and looked at me and said, ‘I’m going to throw up. He picked up a drink, took a very small drink out of this cup and then returned to his seat. Less than two minutes after that, Mr. Parsons arched his back and began to have a seizure.”

Parsons died of cardiac arrest on the way to the hospital. Police searched Parsons’ car and found a note with the name of what turned out to be a chemical company and the phone number. Further investigation revealed that on June 25 Parsons had called the number and had 100 grams of sodium cyanide shipped to himself overnight. No one saw Parsons ingest any pill in the courtroom.

According to CDC.gov, cyanide “interferes with the body’s ability to use oxygen. Exposure to sodium cyanide can be rapidly fatal.”

The medical examiner confirmed that the preliminary autopsy results showed death consistent with cyanide poisoning, though toxicology results are still pending.

Until now defendants tried in Nodaway County Missouri are not subjected to a search before entering the courtroom, though this shocking turn of events may cause authorities to reexamine this policy.

Exactly one year ago, Crime Library reported the courtroom suicide of Michael Marin, an Arizona man who took a cyanide pill in court after a guilty verdict. In Marin’s case, his death was captured by the court’s closed circuit cameras.

Video: Man Dies in Courtroom Following Guilty Verdict

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