Jury to hear from mother of slain Chinese scholar

Yingying Zhang and Brendt Christensen

PEORIA, Ill. (AP) – A federal judge will allow jurors at the sentencing hearing of a former University of Illinois doctoral student to watch videos made by the mother and friends of the Chinese scholar he was convicted of kidnapping, torturing and killing.

During a Monday morning hearing ahead of the penalty phase of the trial, U.S. District Judge James Shadid said prosecutors can play clips of calls that Brendt Christensen made from jail in which they say he asserts his innocence. The (Champaign) News-Gazette reports that prosecutors want to use the clips to show Christensen’s lack of remorse.

Prosecutors want to convince the same jury that last month found Christensen guilty in the kidnapping and slaying of Yingying Zhang to decide that he should be put to death. Christensen’s attorneys hope jurors will sentence him to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

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