It was like a scene out of a spy thriller. Steve Parsons of Maryville, Missouri, was absolutely not going to jail.
Parsons, age 48, had been accused of forcible sodomy of a 14-year-old girl. He was having his day in court and a verdict had been read. He was found guilty, not of forcible sodomy, but of statutory sodomy. The crime carried a sentence of up to 7 years in prison.
What witnesses describe next, according to a local news station, is something they will likely not forget for the rest of their lives. Nodaway County Sheriff Darren White tells what happened in the courtroom as the jurors pronounced Parsons guilty.
“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.”
White said that Parsons collapsed to the floor and began convulsing. He stopped breathing on the way to a nearby hospital, and later died.
On Friday authorities searched Parsons car and found a piece of paper with a phone number on it. It turned out to be for a chemical company. Further investigation revealed that Parsons had bought 100 grams of cyanide from the company and apparently ingested it in the courtroom, killing himself in front of the judge, jurors, sheriff and onlookers, rather than go to jail. An autopsy report confirmed that his death was a result of cyanide poisoning.
The prosecuting attorney who brought Parsons case to trial, Jerry Biggs, said, “I can’t speculate to what he was going through, but I’m firmly convinced that his death was not a result of a wrongful verdict by the jury. This was a girl who had been wronged and was determined and brave enough to make things right.”