A Missouri man committed suicide in the courtroom mere moments after being found guilty of sodomy.
Steve Parsons, 48, had been on trial for the sexual assault of an unidentified 14-year-old girl, local Fox affiliate Fox4KC reports. Parsons was found not guilty of forcible sodomy, but when the jury announced that Parsons had been found guilty of statutory sodomy, the Maryville, Mo., man responded by allegedly swallowing a cyanide pill. He then collapsed to the floor and began convulsing, committing suicide in front of the court’s shocked onlookers.
“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,’” Nodaway County Sheriff Darren White told Fox4KC. White had been sitting close to Parsons and noted that he seemed to be “a little off.”
“He picked up a drink, took a very small drink out of this cup, and then returned to his seat,” White continued. “Less than two minutes after that, Mr. Parsons arched his back and began to have a seizure.”
The apparent cyanide pill caused Parsons to go into cardiac arrest, White told Fox4KC. He stopped breathing on the way to a nearby hospital, and later died as a result of the suicide attempt. “I mean, I’ve never seen this happen before in the courthouse,” White said.
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On Friday, authorities searched Parsons’ car, discovering a piece of paper on which he had written the name and phone number of a chemical company. White called the company, and an employee confirmed that “on the 25th of June Mr. Parsons ordered 100g of cyanide from their company and had it overnight shipped,” Fox4KC reports.
By Friday night, a preliminary autopsy had confirmed that Parsons committed suicide by cyanide pill. “After examining the body ... this was the most classic case of cyanide poisoning that he’s ever been a party to,” White said of the coroner’s report.
White expressed utter shock at the apparent suicide, saying that none of the court’s attendants had witnessed Parsons swallow any pills: “I’ve never see it happen before. The judge has never seen it happen before. None of the attorneys have ever seen it happen before.”