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Closing arguments expected this week in Chinese scholar slaying trial

Xinhua | Updated: 2019-06-19 08:55
Brendt Christensen. [Photo/Agencies]

CHICAGO -- Closing arguments by attorneys involved in the case of Brendt Christensen, who is accused of kidnapping and killing Chinese visiting scholar Zhang Yingying in 2017, are expected to start this week, local media reported on Tuesday.

The News Gazette said the defense attorneys would wrap up witness testimony and cross examination as early as Thursday, in which they will call at least two witnesses to testify.

Federal prosecutors are expected to call their final witnesses in the trial and rest their case either Wednesday afternoon or Thursday, according to assistant US Attorney Eugene Miller.

Closing arguments by attorneys on both sides could be either Friday morning or Monday morning. The jury then will deliberate on a guilty or not guilty verdict only. If the verdict is guilty, jury talks will come later about whether to impose the death penalty or life in prison.

On Wednesday, one of Christensen's attorneys admitted in the court that the defendant indeed kidnapped and killed Zhang. However, Christensen is not changing his not guilty plea.

The defense said they will make an effort to spare Christensen the death penalty.

Zhang, a 26-year-old visiting Chinese scholar at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), went missing on June 9, 2017, after getting into a black Saturn Astra about five blocks from where she got off a bus on her way to an apartment complex to sign a lease.

Police arrested Christensen on June 30, 2017, who was a former UIUC doctoral student, and charged him with the kidnapping, torturing and killing of Zhang.

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