CHICAGO (AP) – Jury selection is set to continue in the trial of a former graduate student charged with kidnapping and killing a University of Illinois scholar from China.

Brendt Christensen is charged in the death of Yingying Zhang, who disappeared in June 2017. Federal prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Christensen. The jury selection process began on Monday in Peoria, Illinois.

Brendt Christensen. (Courtesy: Macon County Sheriff’s Office)

Of its decision to seek the death penalty, the U.S. Justice Department cited evidence that Christensen tortured Zhang after taking advantage of the 26-year-old woman’s small size and lack of English-speaking skills to lure her into his car as she headed to sign an apartment lease off campus.

Her body was never found.

Yingying Zhang (FBI)

A leader in Illinois’ anti-death penalty movement, Rob Warden, says federal authorities are “imposing capital punishment on a state that abolished it.” He calls that “morally offensive.”

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