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'Four Years?': American Kills Himself In Taiwan Court

| by Michael Doherty

An American man who received a four-year jail sentence for marijuana in a Taiwanese court reportedly stabbed himself to death with a pair of scissors when the sentence was announced.

English teacher and married father of two Tyrel Martin Marhanka, 41, was sentenced to four years in jail by a Taiwanese judge for possessing marijuana and opium.

When Marhanka was told his sentence in court on June 16, he reportedly replied, "Four years?"

He then later allegedly said "I don't want to live anymore" and plunged a pair of scissors, which he had snuck past guards, into his neck, fatally severing his arteries, according to the Daily Mail. The blades of the scissors had been separated, and he reportedly stabbed himself on both sides of his neck.

Police found 200 cannabis plants, 195 dried cannabis plants and 10 opium poppies at the house Marhanka rented in the township of Yongjing in Changhua County. Investigators believed he purchased the seeds for the plants from a British website.

Marhanka said after his arrest that he did not sell the plants and that he had been growing them for his own use. The court gave him a sentence of four years instead of the maximum of seven since he had not been selling the drugs.

Marhanka had lived in Taiwan for 15 years and had a Taiwanese wife as well as two children, a daughter in kindergarten and a son in second grade. He lost his job teaching after he was indicted for the drugs, Marhanka's neighbors told the China Post. He reportedly stayed home most of the time with his children.

The metal detector in the court reportedly did not register the concealed scissors when he entered the courthouse. The court said that it felt "deep regret" over Marhanka's death, and while the courthouse did not have room for more advanced scanning equipment, a new building would be equipped with x-ray scanners, the New York Times reports.

The court added that Marhanka was not in detention prior to his hearing and that he did not show any previous outward indication of suicidal behavior.

After he stabbed himself in court, Marhanka was rushed to the hospital, but doctors weren't able to save him.

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