Slain scholar’s father to testify in death penalty hearing

Yingying Zhang and Brendt Christensen

PEORIA, Ill. (AP) – Jurors who will decide whether a former University of Illinois doctoral student should be executed for the kidnapping and brutal slaying of a Chinese scholar are hearing about what the victim meant to those closest to her.

A day after jurors heard from Yingying Zhang’s fiance and watched videos made by her friends, they’re expected to listen on Tuesday to the woman’s father and brother.

The testimony is part of the penalty phase of Brendt Christensen’s trial. The federal jury that found Christensen guilty last month in the 2017 killing now must decide if he should be put to death or allowed to live the rest of his life in prison.

Prosecutors are pushing for the death penalty but defense attorneys argue that life in prison is punishment enough.

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