Former Lehigh University Student Pleads Guilty of Poisoning Black Roommates – Boston 25 News
BETHLEHEM, PA. – A former Lehigh University student pleaded guilty to poisoning his roommate over several months in 2018.
Yukai Yang, 24, pleaded guilty Monday to attempting the murder of Juwan Royal, according to The Associated Press. Yang is from China. Royal is black.
Yang, whose student visa was revoked after his arrest, faces a sentence of between six and 20 years when sentenced on Jan. 21, the AP reported. He is expected to be deported to China.
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Previous hearings and court records indicate that Royal felt ill on March 18, 2018. He called for help because of dizziness.
The symptoms recurred later that month when he started vomiting.
The following month, Yang was arrested and charged with damaging Royal’s television set and scrawling racist graffiti on his desk. He was charged with ethnic intimidation.
Yang admitted in an interview with police in May 2018 that he bought the heavy metal thallium and mixed it with food and drink in the refrigerator shared by roommates. According to authorities, if he did poorly on his exams, he said he was trying to harm himself.
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The AP reported at the time that Royal Blood tested positive for thallium. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, when ingested, the soft metal affects the nervous system, lungs, heart, liver, and kidneys.
The odorless and tasteless metal causes vomiting, diarrhea and hair loss and can be fatal at a dose of just 1 gram, reports the CDC. Thallium, which was banned as a rat poison in 1972 due to accidental overdose in children, is still used in industrial settings.
Royal testified at an earlier hearing that the poisoning left him with headaches, nausea and weight loss, the AP reported.
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Yang was a chemistry major before he was kicked out of Lehigh University. He and Royal had been roommates for several years.
“Mr. Royal was just as astonished by this as anyone,” Northampton Assistant District Attorney Abraham Kassis told reporters in 2018. “He believed they had a pretty warm relationship as roommates.”
As part of his plea, the charges of racist intimidation against Yang were dismissed.