Prosecutors to seek death penalty in U of I missing scholar case

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

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URBANA, Ill. — U.S. prosecutors have told a judge they will seek the death penalty against a 28-year-old man charged with the kidnapping and killing of a University of Illinois scholar from China.

Federal prosecutors filed a notice Friday with the U.S. District Court in central Illinois. It cites, among other factors, that Brendt Christensen’s alleged killing of Yingying Zhang involved torture.

Christensen is charged in the June kidnapping and death of the 26-year-old. Her body hasn’t been found, but authorities say that have evidence she’s dead.

Christensen’s trial is slated to begin Feb. 27. He has pleaded not guilty.

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