Openings set at Illinois trial in slaying of Chinese scholar

YingYing Zhang

CHICAGO – Opening statements are set for a federal death-penalty trial of a former University of Illinois graduate student charged with kidnapping and killing a visiting Chinese scholar.

After opening remarks to jurors Wednesday morning in Peoria, in central Illinois, federal prosecutors will call their first witnesses. Twelve jurors were picked Tuesday after a jury-selection process that last more than a week.

Brendt Christensen is accused of luring 26-gear-old Yingying Zhang into his car in June 2017 as she headed to sign a lease off campus.

A federal judge moved the trial to Peoria after Christensen’s lawyers said pretrial publicity would have made it impossible for the 29-year-old to get a fair trial in the Champaign area, where U of I is located.

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