Kidnapping suspect's lawyers push for trial delay

Posted: Updated:
Brendt Christensen, 28 Brendt Christensen, 28

URBANA, Ill. (WAND) – The trail for a man accused of kidnapping a Chinese scholar at the University of Illinois could be delayed.

Paperwork filed by 28-year-old Brendt Christensen’s lawyers asks for more time to prepare for the case. Christensen is charged with kidnapping resulting in death after Yingying Zhang, 26, disappeared from the U of I campus on June 9.

The defense lawyers told The News-Gazette they have months of collected evidence to sift through, including laptop computers, fingerprints, DNA and a selection of trace evidence. They are arguing that prosecutors have looked at these items for up to five months without giving them reports to examine as they come up with a defense for the suspect.

A 22-page report from defense lawyers requested an October 2018 trial start date. Christensen’s trial is still scheduled to begin on Feb. 27, 2018, but the newspaper says that date could change if federal officials file to seek the death penalty against Christensen by Feb. 1.

Federal investigators tell WAND-TV a judge has taken the defense team’s request for more time “under advisement”. A timeline for a decision is unknown as of Wednesday.

Investigators are still looking to find Zhang, who they believe to be dead.

Current Conditions