UPDATE: The family of Yingying Zhang spoke for the first time since the trial started three weeks ago. They gave a statement through a family lawyer and answered several questions about the trial and their experience. They said they asked prosecutors to seek the death penalty for Christensen.
The family also gave this statement:
“On behalf of Yingying, our beloved daugher, and for my wife, my son, and myself, I thank the jury for this step towards justice.
We thank the prosecutors , the University of Illinois police, the FBI, and all who helped in the investigation and trial of this case.
We thank the many people in China, American, and across the world who have reached out to us in friendship to support us. We would like to especially thank the friends who have helped us with our daily living from both Champaign and Peoria Chinese Associations and churches.
We have missed Yingying tremendously in the past two years. As of today, we still could not imagine how we will live the rest of our lives without her. There is no language that can describe our pain and suffering. We hope and believe that this trial will eventually bring justice to Yingying and us. Our wish has always been to find Yingying and bring her home. We will not give up.”
PEORIA — A jury has convicted Brendt Christensen for the 2017 murder of University of Illinois scholar Yingying Zhang.
Closing arguments were this morning, and the jury began deliberating after lunch.
After just two hours, the verdict was in. Christensen is guilty of kidnapping resulting in death and making false statements to the FBI.
Christensen has been on trial for weeks and could get the death penalty.
Sentencing is set to begin July 8th.