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Jury goes home without sentence for killer of Chinese scholar

Yingying Zhang and Brendt Christensen

PEORIA, Ill. (AP) – Jurors have gone home after the first day of deliberations without a decision on whether a former University of Illinois doctoral student should be put to death for slaying a young scholar from China.

The jury withdrew to deliberate Wednesday afternoon after closing arguments in the death-penalty stage of the case against Brendt Christensen. The same jurors convicted him last month of killing Yingying Zhang.

Jurors deliberated for less than three hours before the judge dismissed them for the day. They will resume their deliberations Thursday.

They took less than 90 minutes to return with a guilty verdict last month, in part because defense lawyers said during the trial their client killed Zhang.

Among the questions they must answer in the penalty phase is whether Christensen displayed unique cruelty in how he killed Zhang or whether he exhibited redeeming qualities in his life.

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