updated 5/18/2004 11:29:47 AM ET 2004-05-18T15:29:47

A teenager has been convicted of first-degree murder for spiking a romantic rival’s soda with cyanide.

Ryan Furlough, 19, faces a maximum penalty of life without parole. Jurors deliberated about 2½ hours before returning the verdict Monday.

Benjamin Vassiliev, 17, died Jan. 8, 2003, five days after he had a seizure at Furlough’s suburban Baltimore home, where the two had been playing video games in the basement, prosecutors said.

Furlough laced his friend’s drink with the poison because he was in love with Vassiliev’s girlfriend, prosecutors said.

Defense attorney Joe Murtha said Furlough was taking an “excessive dosage” of Effexor, an anti-depressant that some experts say can increase suicidal thinking in adolescents.

“Something happened to Ryan Furlough that altered his ability to appreciate his own actions,” Murtha said.

Vassiliev’s father, Walter, said the verdict was just. “I think this whole case was about good versus evil. ... (Benjamin) was the personification and embodiment of everything that is good,” he said.

Furlough was scheduled to be sentenced July 20.

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