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Man who plotted to kill pregnant girlfriend with ricin poison sentenced to prison time

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OKLAHOMA CITY -- A man accused of trying to kill his pregnant girlfriend with ricin pleaded guilty Thursday.

Preston Rhoads, 31, was arrested in April 2014 after investigators got a tip he had recruited a friend to help carry out the murder plot.

He said he wanted to kill his unborn child.

The 31-year-old pleaded guilty in an emotional court hearing.

He will serve, at most, 20 years in prison.

Prosecutors called a number of witnesses Thursday, including the girlfriend he tried to poison.

In a surprise revelation in court, we learned the baby he was trying to kill wasn’t actually his baby.

In tears, Rhoads apologized for his crimes.

Preston Rhoads listened as his ex-girlfriend told the court, “Every day I think about how I was almost murdered.”

“This is a grown man who went to a lot of effort, did a lot of research, to make a very deadly poison,” First Assistant District Attorney Scott Rowland said.

Prosecutors say Rhoads learned how to make ricin from watching the TV show, “Breaking Bad.”

An FBI investigator testified Thursday that Rhoads planned to poison his girlfriend by putting the ricin on a pizza or in her Dr. Pepper.

Rhoads admitted he wanted to kill her unborn child; he thought it was his.

“This was an extraordinarily dangerous situation, and as bad as the consequences were here, they could have been so much more terrible,” Rowland said.

After police arrested Rhoads, Hazmat crews had to decontaminate multiple officers in the middle of downtown Oklahoma City because Rhoads left a vial of ricin in their patrol car.

“He understands those consequences and the impact he had on so many people,” Rhoads’ attorney John Coyle said.

Coyle told the court his client was full of remorse. Rhoads apologized to his ex-girlfriend and her family.

“I think his depression led him to get in the dark place he was in when these things happened,” Coyle said.

At one point, Rhoads told investigators he was going to use the ricin on himself.

Prosecutors called that “ludicrous,” and said that police got to him just in time as he was on his way to commit murder.

“Twenty years in prison is less than we asked for, I respect the judge’s decision in that regard. He heard the testimony, but had this murderous plot been carried out, had he been able to murder this young lady and her unborn child, this might very well be a death penalty case,” Rowland said.

This case is the first of its kind in Oklahoma and cost tens of thousands of dollars because it involved ricin.

On top of Rhoads’ 20 years in prison, he’ll have to pay court costs and a $10,000 fine.

 

 

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