American kills himself in Taiwan court upon drug conviction

AP News
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Posted: Jun 17, 2016 6:11 AM

BEIJING (AP) — An American man killed himself by slashing his neck with a scissor blade inside a courtroom in Taiwan after being given a four-year sentence on drugs charges, prompting moves to increase security.

Tyrel Martin Marhanka, 41, was rushed to a hospital where he was pronounced dead Thursday, according to a statement from the Changhua District Court.

Marhanka had been indicted in March for growing opium and marijuana at a rented site in Changhua county in central Taiwan, said the official Taiwanese Central News Agency.

CNA said Marhanka told investigators he was growing the plants purely for his own consumption. The American had been teaching English and was living in Changhua with his Taiwanese wife and two children. The Taipei Times said he'd lived in Taiwan for more than 15 years.

The court said Marhanka apparently smuggled two scissor blades by hiding them in a magazine tucked underneath his arm. The metal detecting gate at the courthouse failed to detect the blades, the court said.

Both the blades and the magazine were recovered by police, the official statement said.

The court expressed regrets over Marhanka's death and said it had installed two X-ray scanners to strengthen the security check.