Ex-Girlfriend Of Accused Killer Of Yingying Zhang Continues Testimony
Federal prosecutors will rest their case Friday in the trial of Brendt Christensen, the man accused of killing University of Illinois visiting scholar Yingying Zhang. The capital case could go to the jury Monday.
Christensen’s ex-girlfriend, Terra Bullis, spent most of Thursday's trial session on the witness stand at a federal courtroom in Peoria, continuing her testimony for the prosecution. Bullis finished walking through a replay for the jury of recordings of Christensen which she made secretly for the FBI, including his graphic murder confession. She also answered questions about the text conversations the two shared.
As they heard the recording again, several jurors placed their hands at their mouths during the most gruesome parts. At least one held back tears and looked to Zhang’s father who was listening in the gallery. Zhang’s parents are being aided by two interpreters; both are reportedly U of I law students.
In cross-examination, the defense worked to paint Bullis as not so submissive to Christensen, and more as his guide to sexual fetish and fantasy practices. Defense Attorney Robert Tucker pushed Bullis on the extent of her knowledge about Christensen’s problems with alcohol, suggesting she enabled his drinking when the situations suited her, specifically on June 29, 2017, the day of that the two of them attended a vigil for Zhang. At that event, with a concealed FBI recording device turned on, Bullis and Christensen drank, and he told her had killed Zhang, claimed he had killed other people before, and said Zhang was not his first Asian victim.
Bullis also testified the government compensated her $7,000 to $8,000 for her medical bills and lost wages. At some point Bullis says she could no longer work in public, due to publicity about the circumstances of the case.
Christensen’s ex-wife Michelle will testify for the defense Friday. The defense says it will present less than a day of witness testimony. Then the jury will hear closing statements and receive instructions before they begin deliberations. U.S. District Judge Jim Shadid said the jury could receive the case and begin deliberating as soon as Monday.