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Yingying Zhang disappeared on June 9, 2017. (University of Illinois Police Department). Inset: Brendt Christensen (Macon County Sheriff’s Department)

A 12-person jury is in the process of deciding whether the former Ph.D. candidate will live out the rest of his natural life behind bars or if he’ll be put to death for the kidnapping and killing of Yingying Zhang.

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In this June 6, 2019 file photo, musician R. Kelly departs the Leighton Criminal Court building after pleading not guilty to 11 additional sex-related charges in Chicago. (AP Photo / Amr Alfiky, File)

The embattled R&B superstar, who has been the subject of sexual assault accusations for decades, won’t be allowed to walk free while facing his latest legal battle.

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Brendt Christensen (Macon County Sheriff's Department)

More than a month after they first began hearing testimony, jurors in the trial of Brendt Christensen are likely to begin deliberating this week over his appropriate sentence: life in prison or death.

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In this June 6, 2019 file photo, musician R. Kelly departs the Leighton Criminal Court building after pleading not guilty to 11 additional sex-related charges in Chicago. (AP Photo / Amr Alfiky, File)

A federal court hearing for R&B singer R. Kelly has been pushed back a day and will instead be held Tuesday when the singer was expected to be arraigned.

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In this June 26, 2019, file photo, R&B singer R. Kelly, center, arrives at the Leighton Criminal Court building for an arraignment on sex-related felonies in Chicago. (AP Photo / Amr Alfiky, File)

Singer R. Kelly, already facing sexual abuse charges brought by Illinois prosecutors, was arrested in Chicago on a federal grand jury indictment listing 13 counts including sex crimes and obstruction of justice.

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Yingying Zhang, center, stands with her parents at a train station in China in 2017. This marked the last time they saw their daughter alive. (U.S. Attorney's Office)

Defense attorneys called a juror’s actions this week “unprecedented” and sought a mistrial on Wednesday. That request was denied, but the walkout marks one more oddity in the high-profile case.

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Yingying Zhang, center, takes a photo with her father Ronggao Zhang, left, mother Lifeng Ye and fiance Xiaolin Hou. (U.S. Attorney's Office)

As he looked down at a photo of his daughter, Ronggao Zhang could not contain himself. He turned away, inhaled sharply and began crying on the witness stand. Then the man convicted of killing Yingying Zhang did the same.

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Yingying Zhang disappeared on June 9, 2017. (University of Illinois Police Department). Inset: Brendt Christensen (Macon County Sheriff’s Department)

Until this week, jurors knew little about Yingying Zhang, other than how she died. Federal prosecutors on Monday sought to paint a better picture of the visiting Chinese scholar through the words of her friends and loved ones.

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A memorial stone engraved with Yingying Zhang’s name in both English and Chinese on the campus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in June 2019, two years after her disappearance. (Photo by Mark Van Moer) Inset, top: Yingying Zhang (Courtesy University of Illinois Police Department). Bottom: Brendt Christensen (Courtesy Macon County Sheriff’s Department).

As in any criminal case, after a defendant is found guilty, the court moves on to sentencing. But things operate differently when the defendant faces a possible death sentence.

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Brendt Christensen (Macon County Sheriff's Department)

Federal defenders are seeking a four-week delay to review and translate videos of Yingying Zhang and her family if that evidence is allowed at sentencing.

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Musician R. Kelly departs from the Leighton Criminal Court building after a status hearing in his criminal sexual abuse trial Wednesday, June 26, 2019 in Chicago. (AP Photo / Amr Alfiky)

The lawsuit says the abuse occurred in 1998. Kelly’s attorneys say she had until 2002 to sue. But state law can extend deadlines to file in cases where the accuser becomes aware of the abuse later.

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State Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth, D-Peoria speaks during a news conference before Gov. J. B. Pritzker signs a bill that legalizes adult-use cannabis in the state of Illinois at Sankofa Cultural Arts and Business Center, Tuesday, June 25, 2019, in Chicago. (AP Photo / Amr Alfiky)

Lawmakers who drafted the measure making Illinois the 11th state to legalize marijuana emphasized repairing what they say is the damage done by a half-century of the war on drugs. 

Motion claims offer was made to feds months after Christensen’s arrest

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Yingying Zhang disappeared on June 9, 2017. (University of Illinois Police Department). Inset: Brendt Christensen (Macon County Sheriff’s Department)

Attorneys for Brendt Christensen say he offered to cooperate with investigators and disclose what he did with the Chinese scholar’s remains in return for a life sentence just six months after his 2017 arrest.

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Musician R. Kelly departs from the Leighton Criminal Court building after a status hearing in his criminal sexual abuse trial Wednesday, June 26, 2019 in Chicago. (AP Photo / Amr Alfiky)

Prosecutors have turned over to R. Kelly’s attorneys a tape they say shows the singer having sex with a minor girl two decades ago.

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A still image from video footage released by Chicago police Monday, June	24, 2019 shows the “Empire” actor wearing a thin white rope wrapped around his neck that he told detectives was a noose.

Chicago police on Monday released hundreds of files from the investigation into Jussie Smollett’s claim he was attacked by two men, including releasing video footage for the first time of the “Empire” actor wearing a thin white rope wrapped around his neck.

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Yingying Zhang disappeared on June 9, 2017. (University of Illinois Police Department). Inset: Brendt Christensen (Macon County Sheriff’s Department)

Brendt Christensen has been found guilty in the kidnapping and death of Chinese scholar Yingying Zhang, setting the stage for what could be the first death sentence handed down within Illinois since the state abolished capital punishment in 2011.

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