WI student sentenced to 40 months in prison for ricin possession

Kyle Smith of Oshkosh, Wisconsin, was sentenced to a prison sentence of three years and four months for the possession of ricin on June 26, the Department of Justice announced. 

Kyle Smith of Oshkosh, Wisconsin, was sentenced to a prison sentence of three years and four months for the possession of ricin on June 26, the Department of Justice announced. 


In proceedings, Smith admitted to homicidal thoughts, which were the most likely reason he went to chemistry professors asking about the production process. He states that he had no intention of using the compound on a person due to many people knowing about his activity.


University of Wisconsin (UW) – Oshkosh police were first notified by professors that Smith had contacted regarding the development of ricin. In the plea agreement, Smith stated that he had grown castor beans and had taken part in the extraction process. Samples were sent to the National Bioforensics Analysis Center of the Department of Homeland Security where it was confirmed to be ricin. 


The Oshkosh Police Department, Federal Bureau of Investigation and the UW Police Department assisted with this case; it was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Kanter, within the Eastern Distric Court of Wisconsin and the National Security Division of the Justice Department.


Ricin toxin is considered to be highly lethal, as it prevents cells in the body from synthesizing important proteins. Symptoms include difficulty breathing, nausea, vomiting and potential death within 36 to 72 hours.