RECAP: Week 1 of Christensen’s Sentencing

A week of tears in the courtroom from a man convicted of brutally killing a University of Illinois Chinese student: Yingying Zhang. In federal court, a jury will decide whether or not Brendt Christensen should receive the death penalty.

Monday: In opening statements, prosecutors told stories about Zhang’s family and her academic achievement. The defense painted Christensen as a once bright student who had been overcome by dark thoughts.

Tuesday: The jury heard from Zhang’s family, her father wept as the prosecution showed a picture of the last time he saw his daughter. An audio clip was also played. In it, Christensen said no one would ever be able to find her body.

Wednesday: The prosecution rested and the defense called Christensen’s dad to testify. Both father and son broke down crying when Michael Christensen apologized for the pain his son had caused.

Thursday: The defense tried to have Christensen’s doctor testify about her diagnosis of Christensen’s mental health. The judge blocked the witness, saying the prosecution was unaware of the actual nature of the testimony.

The week ended with a defense witness saying U of I failed to properly treat Christensen when he said he was having homicidal thoughts. Testimony continues on Monday at 9 am at the federal courthouse in Peoria.

Andy Weber

Andy Weber

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