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Suspect to plead not guilty in kidnapping of China scholar

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Mugshot for Brendt Christensen, the man accused of kidnapping University of Illinois scholar YingYing Zhang.

URBANA, Ill. (AP) _ A 28-year-old man charged in the abduction of a University of Illinois scholar from China plans to plead not guilty.

Defense attorney Tom Bruno tells The (Champaign) News-Gazette that Brendt Christensen will enter the plea during a hearing Thursday afternoon in U.S. District Court, near the school in Urbana.

A grand jury returned an indictment last week charging Christensen with kidnapping. Christensen is accused of kidnapping 26-year-old Yingying Zhang on June 9 in Urbana, 140 miles (225 kilometers) southwest of Chicago. He is a recent graduate student in physics at the university.

Investigators say Zhang was abducted after she left campus to sign an apartment lease. They believe Christensen lured her into his car.

Investigators have said they believe Zhang is dead, although they haven’t found her body.
Information from: The News-Gazette