Updated: 3:15 AM ET, Fri April 5, 2019
A female engineer at a Bay Area consulting firm claims that she suffered many months of “immediate and significant health problems” after consuming beverages and food she had left at her desk while at work. She suspects that they both were poisoned by a colleague, according to law enforcement.
According to surveillance video from inside her office at Berkeley Engineering and Research in Berkeley, California, Rong Yuan claims she witnessed her co-worker, David Xu, lacing her water with a substance, according to court documents.
David Xu, 34, was taken into custody on March 28. Xu was charged with three felonies: premeditated attempted murder and two counts of poisoning with enhancement. The last two charges are from Yuan’s relatives who also showed symptoms of poisoning after drinking from her water bottle that she brought home from the office.
The three alleged victims’ blood samples contained high levels of cadmium, according to law enforcement.
Xu, who is also an engineer, pleaded not guilty to the charges against him during a court appearance held on Thursday.
“Mr. Xu is presumed innocent. That means despite the allegations, he is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt by the government,” his lawyer, Julia Jayne stated.
Last month Yuan reported to the police that she had been noticing “a strange taste or smell from her water and food left unattended in her office” on more than one occasion between the dates of October 2017 and last month. She mentioned that she suffered health problems after consuming the items resulting in her having to visit the emergency room.
In 2019, Yuan examined the surveillance video, which captured Xu adding a substance to her water bottle twice, once in February and once in March, according to the court documents. The tests later confirmed that cadmium, which is a toxic metal, was present in the samples taken from her water bottle.
Exposure to cadmium can cause forms of cancer. When ingested, the metal targets the body’s gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, neurological, renal, reproductive, and respiratory systems, according to OSHA. Industrial industries use this toxic metal to manufacture batteries, solar cells, corrosion-protection coatings, and to create pigments.
The Alameda County District Attorney’s office says that Xu’s bail is set at $2 million.
Xu’s next court date will be on May 9 for a pretrial hearing.