Trial of Man Accused of Kidnapping U of I Scholar Delayed

Aug 28, 2017

A federal judge has delayed until February the trial of the man accused of kidnapping visiting U of I scholar Yingying Zhang.

Brendt Christensen is accused of kidnapping Zhang from a campus bus stop on June 9. Zhang hasn’t been found and the FBI presumes her dead.

The trial was supposed to start next month, but federal Judge Colin Bruce granted the joint motion for a continuance giving both the prosecution and defense more time to prepare their cases.

The trail is now scheduled for February 27, 2018.

Christensen is being held without bond in the Macon County Jail, about an hour away. Defense attorney Tom Bruno says this presents a hardship in trying to represent Christensen and even trying to brief him on the status of his case.

“Christensen is driving back to Decatur right now with many questions and he has nobody to ask, and that’s a practical difficulty.”

Bruno says he does not anticipate asking to move the trial out of Urbana Federal Court. He is confident he can find an impartial jury in central Illinois.