Lin Senhao, a medical student of Fudan University, is convicted of intentional homicide in the first trial and sentenced to death at Shanghai No.2 Intermediate People’s Court, Feb. 18, 2014. (Photo from official website of Shanghai No.2 Intermediate People’s Court)
SHANGHAI, Feb. 18 -- A medical student at a prestigious university in Shanghai was sentenced to death on Tuesday after he was convicted of murdering his roommate with lab poison in April of last year. | Photos
The Shanghai No. 2 Intermediate People's Court convicted Lin Senhao, a postgraduate at Fudan University, of intentional homicide in the first trial verdict.
Lin used N-Nitrosodimethylamine, a deadly chemical compound he took from the university lab, to contaminate a water dispenser in their dorm. His roommate, Huang Yang, drank from the dispenser on April 1 and died of organ failure on April 16.
The court said as a postgraduate in medical sciences that once conducted animal experiments and research with N-Nitrosodimethylamine, Lin knew its toxic nature.
Lin also concealed the cause of Huang's illness while his roommate was seeking medical treatment, causing Huang to die from the poisoning half a month later.
The evidence showed that Lin wanted his roommate to die from the poisoning. The court therefore rejected his claim that the poisoning was an "April Fool's joke".
In a hearing in November, Lin denied being on bad terms with Huang, whom he described as smart but conceited. He claimed the poisoning was a spur-of-the-moment act after hearing Huang talk about April 1 being a day of pranks.
"April Fool's was coming, and Huang Yang said he planned to play tricks on others, so I thought, fine, I will give you one first," Lin said during November's hearing.
According to the court, the poisoning that led to Huang's death was motivated by Lin's growing discontent with Huang over trivial matters after Huang moved into Lin's dorm in August 2011.
Lin did not confess to contaminating the water dispenser until he was interrogated by police on April 12.
Lin's father said he would appeal the court's decision, saying the penalty handed down to his son was "too harsh".
"A life for a life," said Huang's father, who was in tears. "It is a solace to have a satisfactory result. I will immediately tell our relatives and place the verdict in front of a portrait of Huang Yang."
On China's Twitter-like Sina microblog, netizens lamented the death of the victim and, if the court's ruling stands, the death penalty awaiting the culprit.
"This is a tragedy for both the victim and the culprit, and it should make us think about why we are losing the basic respect for each other nowadays," said user @Zhinuan Qianqianshao on the microblog.
Last year, the poisoning prompted a national outcry and soul-searching on the moral education of the Chinese youth. It also brought the case of Zhu Ling, a chemical major at Tsinghua University who suffered severe brain damage after being poisoned with thallium in 1994, to the spotlight.
Zhu's roommate was suspected of being responsible, but charges were never pressed and the case remains unsolved. Huang's case, however, led to discussions surrounding the case of Zhu, forcing Beijing police in May to deny speculation that her roommate's family used its influence to hinder the investigation.