In June, Brendt Christensen was convicted of kidnapping and killing University of Illinois Chinese scholar Yingying Zhang. This week, he was sent to McCreary United States Penitentiary, a high-security federal prison that houses some 1,500 convicts in southern Kentucky.
Two University of Illinois social workers who once treated the man convicted of kidnapping and killing a visiting Chinese scholar claim they cannot be held legally responsible for his “random and incomprehensible actions.”
The parents of a University of Illinois scholar from China who was abducted and killed are giving at least $20,000 to people who provided authorities with crucial information that led to the arrest and conviction of their daughter’s killer.
After killing the Chinese scholar, Brendt Christensen says he put her body in three separate garbage bags, which he tossed in a dumpster outside his Champaign apartment.
Yingying’s Fund, created with the support of Yingying Zhang’s family, will serve international students across campus and their families “during times of hardship, when they need it most,” according to the fund’s donation page.
The body of Yingying Zhang was never recovered after former University of Illinois doctoral student Brendt Christensen kidnapped and killed her.
Jury fails to reach unanimous decision in death-penalty case
A 12-person jury deliberated for more than eight hours over the course of two days in Peoria’s federal courthouse, but failed to reach a unanimous decision in the death-penalty case.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Motion claims offer was made to feds months after Christensen’s arrest
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.
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.