Kidnapping suspect's arraignment begins with emotional outburst
URBANA, ILL. (WCCU) —
Brendt Christensen entered a not guilty plea to new and more serious federal charges in connection to missing University of Illinois scholar Yingying Zhang.
Wednesday’s arraignment that comes after a grand jury returned a superseding indictment earlier this month.
The hearing was extremely emotional for Yingying’s family, especially her mom.
This was the first time her mom was in the courtroom, and her first time seeing the suspect, Brendt Christensen, in person.
After Christensen entered the court room, Yingying's mom began yelling at him in mandarin, repeatedly shouting, “Give my daughter back!”
She and the rest of Yingying's family then stepped outside of the court room, and did not return for the hearing.
In contrast to the family's emotion, kidnapping suspect Brendt Christensen showed very little emotion. The suspect rarely looked up or made eye contact with anyone throughout the hearing.
The new charges Christensen faces include kidnapping resulting in death, and making false statements to the FBI.
If convicted, Christensen would face mandatory life in prison or the death penalty.
The public defenders representing Christensen had no comment following the hearing.
Christensen is not due back in court until February for a pretrial hearing. The jury trial is set to begin February 27, 2018.