A Missouri businessman who was convicted last week of molesting a 14-year-old girl committed suicide in the courtroom shortly after the verdict was read.
A preliminary medical examiner's report showed traces of cyanide in Steve Parsons' body. Officials said the 48-year-old from Maryville, Mo., swallowed a cyanide pill and began convulsing June 27 immediately after a jury found him guilty of statutory sodomy, according to WAFB.com.
He was later pronounced dead at Heartland Regional Medical Center in St. Joseph.
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"Well I was quite surprised and disappointed and unhappy and sorry. Sorry for the victim, sorry for her family," Jerry Biggs, the Gentry County prosecuting attorney, told Fox4KC.com.
Parsons, who owned Parsons Tire and Battery in St. Joseph, was arrested in June 2011 and charged with two felony counts of statutory sodomy after engaging in sexual intercourse with a 14-year-old girl. He was facing a maximum of seven years in prison.
After the verdict, Parsons took a sip from a cup he was allowed to bring into the courtroom with him, but it is unclear if he had a cyanide pill in his mouth the whole time or if the cyanide was in the cup.
Parsons' courtroom suicide shocked the entire community.
"It's not common to see someone just fall over dead in the courtroom even though they’ve just been found guilty of a crime," White, who was in the courtroom when the verdict was read, told Fox4KC.
Purchasing cyanide generally requires the buyer to fill out a hazardous materials form and other paperwork, and suppliers typically balk at selling the highly toxic substance to individuals. However, police said Parsons appears to have acquired the compound legally, according to the Maryville Daily Forum.
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