Opening statements set today in trial of teen charged in friend's fatal poisoning


Lawyers selected 12 jurors and two alternates yesterday to hear the case against an Ellicott City teen accused of fatally poisoning a classmate last year by spiking his soda with cyanide.

Seven men and five women were chosen to hear the case, which is expected to last more than a week. The two alternate jurors are men. Opening statements are scheduled to begin this morning in Howard County Circuit Court.

Ryan T. Furlough, 19, is charged with first-degree murder in the January 2003 death of his friend and Centennial High School classmate Benjamin Edward Vassiliev. Vassiliev, 17, died Jan. 8 last year -- five days after he went into seizures while playing video games at Furlough's home in the 3500 block of Rhode Valley Trail.

Doctors told investigators that Vassiliev's cyanide level was two to three times above what is considered normal. Furlough admitted to police that he bought the poison over the Internet and put it in his friend's Vanilla Coke, according to charging documents.

Furlough told investigators that he had been thinking of killing Vassiliev for two months, according to the documents. Defense lawyers have said Furlough was suffering from depression and initially planned to kill himself, too.

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