On Wednesday, the jury deciding Brendt Christensen’s fate began their deliberations on whether he deserves the death penalty. He’s already been convicted for killing U of I Chinese scholar Yingying Zhang.
The entire Zhang family was there as lawyers made their final arguments. US Attorney James Nelson did not mince words, saying Brendt Christensen killed Yingying Zhang for sport.
Nelson said the convicted killer obstructed justice, lacked remorse, and posed a future risk. Christensen had one told his girlfriend that “I still want to continue, I still want to do the work I do.”
Defense Attorney Elisabeth Pollock told the jury they had two choices — life or death — either way her client would eventually be leaving prison in a coffin.
Pollock said Brendt’s state of mind was not an excuse for what he did. She argued that Christensen did not deserve death because he tried to get help. She added Christensen had been on a downward spiral that he tried to fight by meeting with counselors.
She finished by putting her hands on Brendt’s shoulders, calling him a whole person and asking the jury not to kill him for one bad act.
The jury will restart deliberations Thursday at 9am.