Christensen Seeks New Judge, Delay Of Kidnapping Trial To 2019
Lawyers for Brendt Christensen want the federal judge in his kidnapping trial to recuse himself.
Christensen is the former physics student accused of kidnapping and killing Yingying Zhang, the University of Illinois visiting scholar who disappeared from the Urbana campus last June. He has been held since his arrest at the Macon County Jail in Decatur.
The request from Christensen’s attorneys appears in a two-page filing submitted on Wednesday at U.S. District Court in Urbana. It asks permission to submit a formal request under seal for Judge Colin Bruce to recuse himself. Placing the motion under seal would mean the public would not see details of of the attorneys' argument.
The federal public defenders representing Christensen also say they’ll need until the middle of next year to prepare for the trial. Prosecutors are pushing for an October trial date. Christensen's trial, once set for last September, had been rescheduled for February.
The Justice Department said last month it would seek the death penalty for Christensen if he’s convicted, making it almost certain that the trial date would be rescheduled again. Federal prosecutors accuse Christensen of torturing Yingying Zhang before killing her. Zhang remains missing.