Closing arguments start in Chinese scholar slaying trial

Source: Xinhua| 2019-06-25 00:43:16|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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PEORIA, the United States, June 24 (Xinhua) -- The closing arguments in the case of Brendt Christensen, who is accused of kidnapping and killing Chinese visiting scholar Zhang Yingying in 2017, started on Monday morning at a federal courthouse in Peoria, in the U.S. state of Illinois.

After eight days of testimony from 35 witnesses, both the prosecution and the defense rested their cases on Friday in the trial of Christensen.

They are making their closing arguments Monday, when prosecutors try to convince the jury beyond a reasonable doubt that evidence shows Christensen kidnapped and killed Zhang, a University of Illinois visiting scholar from China.

Christensen's lawyers admitted in their opening statement on June 12 that their client killed Zhang and appear focused on avoiding a death sentence.

After the closing arguments, a jury of seven men and five women will deliberate on whether Christensen is guilty or not of kidnapping and killing Zhang.

A guilty verdict is expected, given that his lawyers admitted in their opening statement that Christensen killed Zhang.

If convicted, Christensen faces life in prison or death penalty during a later sentencing phase of the trial, where lawyers for each side will argue to the same jury why Christensen does or does not deserve the death penalty.

Zhang, a 26-year-old visiting Chinese scholar at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), went missing on June 9, 2017, after getting into a black Saturn Astra about five blocks from where she got off a bus on her way to an apartment complex to sign a lease.

Police arrested Christensen, a former UIUC doctoral student, on June 30, 2017, and charged him with kidnapping, torturing and killing Zhang. He has pleaded not guilty.