Former A*Star scholar Ouyang Xiangyu gets 3 years' probation for poisoning lab mates

Former Stanford student Ouyang Xiangyu (centre in white) arrives at the Court in Palo Alto on Friday, Jan 15 with her family members and lawyer Jeffrey Hayden for her sentencing hearing.
Former Stanford student Ouyang Xiangyu (centre in white) arrives at the Court in Palo Alto on Friday, Jan 15 with her family members and lawyer Jeffrey Hayden for her sentencing hearing. ST PHOTO: JEREMY AU YONG
Former Stanford student Ouyang Xiangyu confers with her lawyer Jeffrey Hayden  in court during her sentencing in Palo Alto for poisoning two university labmates.
Former Stanford student Ouyang Xiangyu confers with her lawyer Jeffrey Hayden  in court during her sentencing in Palo Alto for poisoning two university labmates.ST PHOTO: JEREMY AU YONG
A court bailiff gives former Stanford student Ouyang Xiangyu instructions after she was sentenced in Palo Alto to three years' probation for poisoning two labmates.
A court bailiff gives former Stanford student Ouyang Xiangyu instructions after she was sentenced in Palo Alto to three years' probation for poisoning two labmates.ST PHOTO: JEREMY AU YONG

PALO ALTO, CALIFORNIA - Former A*Star scholarship holder Ouyang Xiangyu, 27, was sentenced to three years of probation and ordered to complete 176 days of community service on Friday (Jan 15), after pleading "no contest" to four counts of poisoning.

Judge Vincent Chiarello spoke to lawyers in his chambers before delivering his sentence.

He told the court he had considered character references from her church, psychological reports and has also taken into consideration statements from the victims about their current physical condition as a consequence of the poisoning, though no further details on the statements were available.

 
 

He added that the court understands that Ouyang is currently responding to treatment, but no details were revealed about her current mental condition.

Ouyang, who appeared sombre throughout the sentencing, agreed in court to carry out community service five days a week, starting on Monday Feb 22.

Ouyang's lawyer Jeffrey Hayden told The Straits Times that his client will now adjust to what the court wants her to do and is "nothing if not trying to please".

Formerly a student of Stanford University, Ouyang was ordered to stay away form the campus, and is to have no contact with the victims during the probation period.

Ouyang was arrested on Nov 16, 2014 after poisoning the drinking water of two Stanford laboratory mates between September and November that year.

The lab mates, in court documents, said they experienced a burning sensation in their throats after drinking from their bottles. There was no serious injury.

When questioned by the police, Ouyang said she had been experiencing severe insomnia and dizziness since September 2014 and was not aware of what she was doing.

Ouyang admitted to putting paraformaldehyde in two water bottles belonging to two lab mates but said she never had any personal issues with them and "didn't mean to harm people".

Other Stanford students who spoke to The Straits Times and knew Ouyang said she was a quiet and shy individual and had seemed stressed by school work.

Ouyang, who has since been expelled from Stanford University, had also allegedly sabotaged a lab mate's experiments from mid-August last year.

Deputy district attorney Anne Seery told The Straits Times that she had not pursued jail time for Ouyang as the victims had agreed that it would be better for her to get counselling and therapy.

"I think a fair resolution", has been reached, said Ms Seery.