News Local/State

Brendt Christensen Kidnapping Trial Rescheduled For April 2019

Brendt Christensen

Brendt Christensen, accused of kidnapping leading to the death of U of I visiting scholar Yingying Zhang. His trial has been rescheduled for April 2019. Macon County Jail

 A federal judge has set an April 2019 trial date for Brendt Christensen, the former physics student accused of kidnapping and killing Yingying Zhang, a University of Illinois scholar from China. 

The News-Gazette reports that U.S. District Court Judge Colin Bruce set the date during a hearing in Urbana on Monday. The actual trial is expected to begin April 9, 2019, following jury selection.

Prosecutors announced January 19th they would seek capital punishment. They say Brendt Christensen allegedly tortured 26-year-old Yingying Zhang before killing her.  

Neither prosecutors nor Christensen's attorneys objected to the new trial date. The trial had been scheduled to begin later this month, but both prosecutors and defense attorneys requested that it be delayed after capital punishment was named by prosecutors as an option.  

Christensen was arrested last June, three weeks after Zhang disappeared. Authorities say surveillance video showed Zhang getting into a vehicle linked to Christensen, at a bus stop on the University of Illinois campus. Her body hasn't been found. Christensen has pleaded not guilty to kidnapping resulting in death. He has been held in the Macon County Jail in Decatur since his arrest.