Man charged with kidnapping U of I student wants trial delayed

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Photo: Brendt Christensen (left); Yingying Zhang (right)

URBANA, Ill.  — The suspect in the abduction of a University of Illinois scholar from China is scheduled to appear in court for a pretrial status hearing.

Lawyers for Brendt Christensen indicated before Monday’s hearing that they’ll ask the federal judge overseeing the case in Urbana to delay the trial date. It’s currently scheduled to start Sept. 12. Requests by defense attorneys for more time to go through evidence are common.

Yingying Zhang disappeared June 9, weeks after arriving at the central Illinois campus. The 26-year-old was doing research in agricultural sciences and expected to begin work on her doctorate in the fall.

Investigators say they believe she’s dead. Her body hasn’t been found.

Christensen is suspected of abducting her in Urbana while she was going to sign an apartment lease.

Zhang’s parents spoke out for the first time last week in Champaign. Zhang’s mother and younger brother flew to Illinois and her father and boyfriend have been in the U.S. since June 17.

The family sent a letter to President Donald Trump for help finding their daughter.