Massachusetts Student Facing Extradition to Scotland for Attempted Murder

PHOTO: A section of the campus at St. Andrews University in Scotland is shown.Adam Butler/AP Photo
A section of the campus at St. Andrews University in Scotland is shown.

A Massachusetts college student is facing extradition for allegedly trying to poison a classmate at St. Andrews University in Scotland by enticing him to drink red wine laced with anti-freeze chemicals.

Alexander Hilton, 21, of Princeton, Mass., is charged with attempted murder in Scotland and will face an extradition hearing early next month.

Hilton gave a bottle of wine laced with methanol, a chemical found in anti-freeze, to a friend while playing drinking games at St. Andrews University in Scotland, the elite school attended by Prince William, according to court papers.

The other student fell seriously ill, experienced blindness, and could have died, according to court documents in the case.

Hilton was arrested by U.S. authorities last week under the United States' extradition treaty with the United Kingdom.

Hilton appeared in federal court in Boston Thursday for a bail hearing that is expected to continue next week. He will then face an extradition hearing on March 7.

Hilton's lawyer, Norman S. Zalkind, told ABC News that his client is "seriously mentally ill," but said that he "emphatically denies" the charges.

Neither the court documents nor Hilton's lawyer cited a motive for the alleged attack.

According to court documents, on March 5, 2011, Hilton was drinking with friends and gave an already-opened full bottle of red wine to a fellow American classmate identified as Robert Forbes.

"Hilton (said)... the bottle was a gift and that he should accept it. Thereafter, Hilton continuously encouraged (the victim) to drink from the bottle, but stated that no one else should," read the criminal complaint lodged by the U.S. Attorney's office in Boston against Hilton.

"Hilton continued to urged (the victim) to drink it, going so far as to 'coin' the bottle, a student drinking game in which a person places a coin into a bottle and the person with the bottle has to drink all the contents of it in one go," the complaint read.

The alleged victim drank all of the wine, and over the next few days began experiencing serious symptoms including severe headaches, joint pain, nausea, wheezing, balance problems, and blurred vision. He eventually sought medical treatment at a hospital.

"In the opinion of the treating doctors, the high levels of methanol in his blood would have resulted in (his) death had he not received medical attention and treatment," the complaint alleged.

The man also experienced temporary blindness, and has still only partially recovered his vision, according to the court documents.

A search of Hilton's computer during the investigation showed that he had searched for information about "methanol mixed with ethanol." Police also found a plastic funnel and glass measuring jug that Hilton had purchased from a local store.

Zalkind said that in the wake of the incident, Hilton met with investigators for hours without an attorney in Scotland. Authorities at St. Andrews urged Hilton to leave the country, he said.

Hilton attended a college in New Mexico for a year before finding out that Scottish authorities were filing charges against him, according to Zalkind. Hilton went back to his parents home so he would be able to turn himself in if American authorities lodged a warrant for his arrest, Zalkind said.

"He respected the fact that there were going to be charges against him, and he waited really for about seven months, basically imprisoned himself waiting (for the charges)," Zalkind said.

The attorney noted to ABC News that Hilton was receiving therapy and medication and "functions okay" when at home with his parents in Massachusetts.

If extradited to Scotland to face the attempted murder charge, he will be represented by a Scottish lawyer, Zalkind said.