You are watching: Chinese scholar who was abducted and killed
Ronggao Zhang, middle, father of murdered college of Illinois visiting scholar Yingying Zhang, speak to the media in Chinese together attorney Zhidong Wang, left, translates throughout a news conference, Thursday, July 18, 2019, in ~ the U.S. Federal Courthouse in Peoria, Ill. In lift is Yingying's boyfriend Xiaolin Hou.Matt Dayhoff / newspaper Star via AP
An Illinois male was sentenced Thursday come life in jail without the possibility of release for kidnapping and killing visiting Chinese scholar Yingying Zhang in 2017.
After the jury fail to with a unanimous decision on the sentence, a commonwealth judge sentenced Brendt Christensen, 30, to life in prison. He to be convicted critical month on fees of kidnapping causing death and two counts of making false statements to FBI agents, the U.S. Attorney’s Office because that the main District that Illinois claimed in a statement.
Brendt Christensen's mugshot.Macon county Sheriff's Office
Prosecutors and Zhang"s family had moved for the death penalty, but a jury decision on that had to it is in unanimous. If even one juror opposed, then the life sentence was applied.
"Tragically, a young woman’s life was cut short by the evil crimes perpetrated in this case,” Assistant Attorney general Brian A. Benczkowski the the righteousness Department’s criminal division said in a statement.
"The room of justice insisted on hold the defendant account to the fullest level of the law, and also hopes the today’s result delivers some measure of justice because that Yingying Zhang and her family,” he said.
At trial, defense attorneys conceded the he cursed the crime, in a bid to spare Christensen the death penalty.
Zhang"s father claimed the household wanted the jury to decide to impose the death penalty.
"However, we accept that the will invest the remainder of his life in prison, which still shows our loss in a coherent way," that said. "We hope that every day he security in jail he feel the pain and suffering that us feel for the ns of Yingying."
Federal prosecutors stated that Christensen raped, choked and also stabbed Zhang before beating her to fatality with a bat and decapitating her, but her remains have actually never been found.
Zhang, 26, pertained to the U.S. Together a visiting scholar in April 2017 to begin post-grad research at the university of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana campus and disappeared June 9, 2017, together she to be on her means to authorize a lease for an apartment, prosecutors said.
In this undated handout, Chinese scholar, Yingying Zhang, is shown.University the Illinois Police Department
Zhang"s household after the sentencing pleaded through Christensen to tell authorities what the did v her human body to end the family’s torment.
"Now the the psychological is over and the jury has actually made that is decision, us ask the defendant come unconditionally tell united state what he knows about Yingying"s location," her father, Ronggao Zhang, claimed according to NBC affiliate WAND the Decatur.
"If friend have any type of humanity left in her soul, please assist end our torment. You re welcome let us bring Yingying home,” that said.
Christensen to be asked if he want to say anything in ~ Thursday’s sentencing hearing and also replied “no, thank you," WAND reported.
Zhang, who was to run late for the apartment meeting, disappeared after getting into the front seat of a vehicle driven through Christensen, i m sorry was taped by security video clip from a bus stop, prosecutors said.
July 2017: Chinese Scholar was Kidnapped and also Likely eliminated by Illinois Man, Authorities SayJuly 3, 201701:16
When questioned, Christensen said he couldn’t remember his whereabouts that day, and also then three days later adjusted his story and said he offered an asian woman a ride, follow to a criminal complaint.
Investigators also noted that a search of his vehicle showed the area where a passenger would have sat appeared to have actually been diligently cleaned. Christensen was inserted under surveillance, follow to court documents.
Prosecutors stated that ~ above June 29, 2017, throughout a vigil come raise awareness for the absent scholar, Christensen explained to his girlfriend exactly how he had killed Zhang, and the woman videotaped the conversation. His apartment was searched, and also he was arrested a day later.
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Illinois abolished the death penalty in 2011, but in federal situations the death sentence deserve to still it is in imposed.