PEORIA, In poor health. (Reuters) – An Illinois jury of 5 girls and 7 males will proceed deliberations on Thursday to determine if a person convicted of abducting and beheading a Chinese language scholar will face a loss of life sentence or spend the remainder of his life behind bars.
FILE PHOTO: Brendt Christensen, 28, arrested in reference to the disappearance of Yingying Zhang, 26, on June 9, 2017, is proven on this reserving photograph in Champaign, Illinois, U.S., supplied July 5, 2017. Macon County Sheriff’s Workplace/Handout through REUTERS/File Photograph
Jurors deliberated for 3 hours on Wednesday with out deciding the destiny of Brendt Christensen, 29, within the U.S. District Court docket in Peoria, Illinois, about 165 miles (265 miles) southwest of Chicago.
He was convicted final month within the kidnapping and the decapitation homicide of Yingying Zhang, a 26-year-old pupil on the College of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, about two years in the past.
A unanimous choice by the panel is required to render a loss of life sentence. In any other case, Christensen will face life imprisonment by default, with no likelihood of ever being launched.
Protection attorneys have requested for a life sentence, and claimed that their consumer has psychological well being issues.
Throughout closing arguments on Wednesday, prosecutors described how Christensen, a one-time masters pupil on the college, took Zhang to his condo, the place she fought for her life as he bludgeoned her with a baseball bat, raped her and stabbed her within the neck earlier than slicing off her head.
“That is the definition of heinous. That is the definition of shockingly evil,” James Nelson, a prosecutor within the U.S. Division of Justice’s capital case division, instructed the jury.
Particulars of the crime, together with her decapitation, had been revealed by Christensen in conversations with a girlfriend secretly recorded for FBI brokers investigating the case earlier than his arrest, in line with trial testimony.
Zhang’s stays have by no means been discovered, however prosecutors mentioned her DNA matched blood present in Christensen’s bed room.
Christensen’s legal professionals acknowledged all through the trial that their consumer killed Zhang, however requested the jury to contemplate that he had struggled with substance abuse and psychological sickness.
“The individual he grew to become was fully and completely inconsistent with the Brendt that he was for the primary 26 years of his life,” protection lawyer Elisabeth Pollock mentioned in her summation.
Zhang was reported lacking on June 9, 2017, two months after coming from southeastern China to review photosynthesis and crop manufacturing on the college.
The case has been intently watched by the media and authorities in China, in addition to by Chinese language college students finding out in the US.
Zhang’s dad and mom and fiance sat by means of the five-week trial.
Earlier within the trial prosecutors characterised Christensen as having a fascination with serial killers, together with Ted Bundy, who murdered dozens of girls throughout the 1970s and was put to loss of life in 1989.
“The defendant killed Yingying Zhang for sport and since he thought he may get away with it,” Nelson instructed jurors.
Reporting by Bob Chiarito; extra writing by Wealthy McKay; Modifying by Michael Perry