EASTON, PA – On Tuesday, Yukai Yang, 24, pleaded guilty to attempted murder, as he repeatedly poisoned his college roommate, Juwan Royal, more than two years ago. The two attended Lehigh University and had shared an apartment for four years.
In 2018, Royal inexplicably began suffering from headaches, nausea, heart palpitations and weight loss. He was eventually diagnosed with heavy metals poisoning.
Yang was responsible for Royal's life-threatening illness, as the chemistry major admitted to putting thallium in his food, water, and even in his mouthwash for months.
Yang acknowledged in court that he purchased the thallium used to poison his roommate. First Assistant District Attorney Richard Pepper told the court that Yang purchased the thallium the first week of March 2018 and began poisoning his roommate shortly thereafter. After the hearing, Pepper said Yang bought the heavy metal online.
Last week, Royal told Judge Stephen Baratta that he is still recovering and now suffers from neurological issues.
Yang could face up to 40 years in prison, when he is sentenced next month. The Chinese national's student visa has been revoked, and he faces deportation upon completion of his sentence.
In exchange for the plea, the Northampton County District Attorney’s Office agreed to drop several other charges filed against Yang in two separate cases.