Shanghai medical student who fatally poisoned roommate is sentenced to death

Lin Senhao sentenced to die after putting toxic chemical in drinking water dispenser and killing roommate at Shanghai Medical College

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 18 February, 2014, 1:35pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 February, 2014, 4:28pm

A former Shanghai medical student who fatally poisoned his roommate last year in what he said was an April Fool’s joke was sentenced to death yesterday.

Lin Senhao, a former master’s student at Fudan University’s Shanghai Medical College, was convicted of murder after he put a toxic chemical he was studying into his dormitory’s water cooler last March, the Shanghai No 2 Intermediate People’s Court announced on its official Sina Weibo account.

After drinking the tainted water, Lin’s roommate, Huang Yang, fell ill with a fever and began vomiting. He died from multiple organ failure after two weeks in intensive care.

“I was not surprised by the verdict,” said Jiang Qinhong, one of Lin’s defence lawyers.

“The best result we were hoping for was the death sentence with a reprieve since it was an intentional homicide case, but Lin’s parents insisted on Lin’s innocence and did not formally apologise or offer any form of compensation to the victim’s family, which made the reprieve almost impossible,” he said.

The court said Lin, who was aged 27 at the time of the killing, deliberately concealed the true cause of Huang’s illness from the authorities while his roommate was fighting for his life in hospital.

Lin finally confessed and was detained in April.

Before the poisoning, Lin was working on an academic paper on the toxin he used in the killing, N-nitrosodimethylamine. The odourless, colourless and water-soluble compound can inflict serious damage to the liver.

Lin said during the trial the poisoning was an April Fool’s joke because he did not get along with Huang who drank the poison on April 1, the China News Services reported.

The two were admitted to medical school in 2010. A few days before he was poisoned, Huang was accepted into the school’s postgraduate programme, while Lin was forced to halt his education due to personal reasons.

“Lin committed intentional homicide over trivialities,” the court statement said. “The method was ruthless, the harm to society was great and the crime extremely serious.”

Lin apologised to Huang’s family, who come from Zigong county in Sichuan, at the end of the trial in November.

“I feel deeply guilty and will accept whatever sentence the court gives me,” the China News Service quoted him as saying.

The outcome reportedly satisfied the victim’s parents, who flew to Shanghai yesterday and told the Shanghai Morning Post they would file an appeal if the court did not sentence Lin to death.

Lin’s father told reporters they would appeal against the death sentence.