Chinese man facing charges for racist graffiti now accused of poisoning black roommate, officials say
A Chinese man who had already been accused of scrawling racist graffiti in a Lehigh University dorm room he shared with an African-American student has now been accused of poisoning him.
Yukai Yang, a 22-year-old chemistry major, allegedly sickened his roommate with thallium and possibly other chemicals. Prosecutors said Thursday he laced his roommate’s food and drinks over several months.
Yukai, who is no longer enrolled at Lehigh University and had his student visa revoked, will be charged with attempted homicide, aggravated assault and other offenses, Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli said. Yukai was already facing an ethnic intimidation charge for the graffiti incident.
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Yukai’s roommate, Juwan Royal, experienced progressively worse symptoms that included dizziness, shaking and vomiting from the alleged thallium poisoning. Authorities said he continues to suffer from the symptoms. He has since graduated from the university.
“Mr. Royal was as dumbfounded by this as anyone else,” Assistant District Attorney Abraham Kassis said, according to The Morning Call. “He believed they had a fairly cordial relationship as roommates.”
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Yukai admitted to authorities in May that he obtained the thallium but said he was going to use it on himself if he didn’t do well in school, according to The Morning Call.
Thallium is an odorless and tasteless soft metal used internationally in electronics manufacturing and other purposes. It was once used in rat poison but has been banned for that use in the U.S. since the 1970s.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.