Man pleads guilty, admits he tried to kill Black roommate with poison

Yukai Yang slowly gave thallium to his roommate, Juwan Royal, in his mouthwash plus in certain foods and drinks.

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A former student at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania has pleaded guilty to poisoning his Black roommate. 

Yukai Yang pleaded guilty to attempted murder. Per his plea agreement, two other charges of reckless endangerment and assault have been withdrawn. 

Yukai Yang, a chemistry student from China, bought thallium in March of 2018 and slowly gave it to his roommate, Juwan Royal. Yang recently pleaded guilty to attempted murder. (Northampton County DA’s Office)

Yang, a chemistry student from China, bought thallium in March of 2018 and slowly gave it to his roommate, Juwan Royal. 

Odorless and tasteless, the heavy metal substance is used in rat poisoning. 

Prosecutors said Yang added thallium to his roommate’s mouthwash, as well as certain food and beverages.

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Royal testified that he suffered weight loss, headaches and nausea as a result of Yang’s efforts. He is still struggling with neurological issues. 

Royal called the police several times after he was sickened by ingesting tainted beverages. He was hospitalized in late March 2018; a week later, “ni**er get out of here” was found scrawled on their dorm-room desk. 

Police analyzed the writing, compared it with Yang’s and ultimately seized his computer, where proof of the purchase of the poison was found. 

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Lehigh Valley Live is reporting that Royal will give an impact statement at the hearing. Northampton County Deputy District Attorney Richard Pepper said “two and a half years later, he’s still having neurological issues with his toes.”

Royal told investigators that the poisoning left him with “unfathomable pain,” which has since faded some, but he continues to have numbness in his extremities and has less stamina. 

Yang will be sentenced on Jan. 21. Guidelines call for a minimum of six to 20 years in prison, and there was no bargain for jail time in the case. Prosecutors are expected to seek a stiff sentence. 

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Yang’s attorney has maintained he suffers from a possible schizoid disorder. A psychological evaluation was completed, and its results will be presented during sentencing. 

Yang’s student visa has been revoked. 

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