CHICAGO (CBS) — Closing arguments are scheduled for Monday in the trial of former University of Illinois doctoral student Brendt Christensen, charged with kidnapping and killing Chinese scholar Yingying Zhang in 2017.
Defense attorneys admitted in their opening statement that Christensen killed Zhang, as part of an apparent strategy to convince jurors not to sentence him to the death penalty.READ MORE: Two Chicago Police Officers Wounded By Accidental Friendly Fire While Confronting Suspect In Lyons, Police Say
Although Illinois abolished the death penalty in 2011, Christensen is being tried in federal court, where the death penalty is still an option.READ MORE: Man Shot, Killed After Argument At Bus Stop In Logan Square; Shooter Kills Second Man Nearby During Carjacking
If the jury finds Christensen guilty, they then must decide whether he should face the federal death penalty. The penalty phase of the trial could last two weeks.
Monday’s closing arguments come after eight days of testimony and evidence, including a surveillance recording of Christensen describing how he raped Zhang, choked and stabbed her, beat her to death with a baseball bat, and decapitated her.MORE NEWS: Chicago Weather: Cool Down In Effect
Zhang’s body has not been found.