EASTON, Pa. (AP) — A former Lehigh University student who admitted poisoning his roommate’s food and drink with a heavy metal substance three years ago has been sentenced to seven to 20 years in state prison. Yukai Yang, now 24, who apologized Wednesday in court to the victim, Juwan Royal, will be deported to China after he completes his sentence.
The former Lehigh University chemistry student pleaded guilty to attempted murder last fall, acknowledging that he bought thallium in March 2018 and began slipping it into Royal’s food and mouthwash. Royal testified earlier that he suffered weight loss, headaches and nausea. He was diagnosed with heavy metal poisoning in April 2018.READ MORE: Fall Full-Capacity Concerts, Xfinity Live! Preparing To Reopen Has Philadelphia's Stadium District Buzzing With Energy
Thallium is odorless and tasteless, and can be fatal in humans. The soft metal is used internationally in electronics manufacturing and for other purposes. It once was used in rat poison in the U.S, but has been banned for that use since the 1970s.
Months before the attempted murder charge, Yang was charged with ethnic intimidation for allegedly damaging his roommate’s TV and writing a racial epithet on his belongings. Royal is Black.
Yang said in court Wednesday that he was sorry for hurting Royal, for the pain he caused the man’s family, and for the shame he brought to his own family and country, The (Allentown) Morning Call reported.READ MORE: Tolls Increasing Sunday On 8 Delaware River Crossings Connecting Pennsylvania, New Jersey
”I cannot undo the damage to your body,” Yang said, referring to the still somewhat-debilitating effects Royal suffers from the heavy metal. “I cannot erase the pain I caused your family. I am here today to accept the punishment I deserve.”
Northampton County Judge Stephen Baratta said the defendant, who has a history of mental health issues, lashed out when the roommate suggested in their senior year that he was considering moving out, WFMZ-TV reported. He called the defendant “an emotionally-wounded, damaged person who couldn’t handle rejection.”
Royal told the court that he remains very concerned about the unknown long-term effects of thallium poisoning. And while he said he can’t forgive Yang for what he put his family through, he has forgiven his former roommate for what he did to him.MORE NEWS: Pennsylvania's Democratic Senate Race Raises Simmering Divisions Inside Party
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