Christensen's trial will be moved to Peoria: Report

Brendt Christensen, 28 Brendt Christensen, 28

PEORIA, Ill. (WAND) – The trial of the man accused of kidnapping and killing University of Illinois student Yingying Zhang will reportedly be moved to Peoria.

WAND’s media partner, The News-Gazette, reports a Peoria-based U.S. District Judge approved that request made by the lawyers representing Brendt Christensen.

In the ruling, Judge James Shadid wrote it was not because of the coverage of the proceedings, as Christenen’s attorneys requested, but said a variety of factors would favor moving the trial. Those included being able to manage cases more easily.

Yingying Zhang, a student from China, was last seen alive getting into Christensen’s car in June 2017. He claimed he dropped her off, but what arrested later that month.

Zhang’s parents had requested the trial stay in Urbana. In his ruling, Shadid wrote that he strongly considered the family's wishes, but that issuing this ruling months before the trial will allow the United States to help the family develop ties and support in the Peoria community.

Urbana attorney Steve Beckett, who represents Zhang’s family, told the News-Gazette, "There are genuine concerns for the Zhang family, who felt welcomed and supported by the University of Illinois community. While a move to Peoria and away from Urbana may be legally appropriate, it does raise the emotional stakes for the family.”

Christensen’s trial is set to start in April 2019. It’s expected to last at least five weeks.

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