Government seeks death penalty for the kidnapping, death of Yingying Zhang
URBANA, Ill. (WICS/WRSP) —
U.S. prosecutors have told a judge they will seek the death penalty against a 28-year-old man charged with the kidnapping and killing of a University of Illinois scholar from China.
Federal prosecutors filed a notice Friday with the U.S. District Court in central Illinois. It cites, among other factors, that Brendt Christensen's alleged killing of Yingying Zhang involved torture.
Christensen is charged in the June kidnapping and death of the 26-year-old. Her body hasn't been found, but authorities say that have evidence she's dead.
Christensen's trial is slated to begin Feb. 27. He has pleaded not guilty.
The attorney for Yingying Zhang's family sent us the following statement in response to the news:
Yingying Zhang's family received word of the recommendation and order of the Attorney General. They express appreciation and respect for the process, including consideration of the family's wishes in arriving at the decision to seek the death penalty in this case. The tragedy of the brutal crime that has harmed their daughter demands the greatest, ultimate punishment. The family's foremost wish has always been to find Yingying and bring her home. The family does intend to return to the United States as necessary for any court proceedings.