Ex-Lehigh University student accused of trying to poison roommate

A former Lehigh University student is accused of trying to poison his roommate by tainting his food and drink with deadly chemicals, The Morning Call reported.

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Yukai Yang, a chemistry major, is accused of attempted murder following several months of investigations in a case District Attorney John Morganelli called “weird and bizarre,” the newspaper reported.

Yang, 22, was charged Thursday with attempted homicide, aggravated assault, simple assault and reckless endangerment, The Washington Post reported. He is in Northampton County Prison and bond was set at $200,000, Lehigh Valley Live reported. His student visa has been revoked, prosecutors told the newspaper.

According to prosecutors, Yang was putting thallium into Juwan Royal's food and drink -- including in his milk and mouthwash -- the Morning Call reported.

There does not appear to a motive, as Yang and Royal had lived together for several years without incident, the newspaper reported. Royal graduated this spring.

“Mr. Royal was as somewhat dumbfounded by this as anyone else,” Assistant District Attorney Abraham Kassis told reporters. “He believed they had a fairly cordial relationship as roommates.”

Royal first reported symptoms March 18 when he called campus police and said he was feeling dizzy, WPVI reported. He called authorities again March 29, telling police he had been throwing up for 45 minutes and felt "very shaky," the television station reported.

On April 5, police came to Royal's dorm room after racist graffiti was written on his desk and his television set was damaged, the Morning Call reported. Yang was arrested the next day and charged with ethnic intimidation against Royal, who is black, the newspaper reported.

In an interview with investigators May 25, Yang admitted he used the internet to purchase chemicals, including, thallium, and mixing them into foods and drinks he stored in a refrigerator he shared with Royal, Morganelli told reporters. But Yang claimed he intended to harm himself with the chemicals, "if he did poorly on future exams," the Morning Call reported.

“The Lehigh University Police Department has worked closely with the District Attorney’s Office on the investigation and will continue to do so. From the outset, our concern has been the health and safety of the victim of these alleged behaviors and, as such, Lehigh staff and faculty have been providing support, services and assistance,” Lehigh spokeswoman Lori Friedman said in a statement.

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