Lawyer helping slain Chinese scholar’s family follow trial

June 5, 2019
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This undated photo provided by the University of Illinois Police Department shows Yingying Zhang. The parents of the visiting University of Illinois scholar who disappeared two years ago have arrived in Illinois from China for the murder trial of the man accused of abducting and killing her. Former Illinois student Brendt Christensen is charged with Zheng, whose body hasn't been found. He pleaded not guilty and his trial is set to begin Monday, June 3, 2019. (Courtesy of the University of Illinois Police Department via AP)

PEORIA, Ill. (AP) — A lawyer for a Chinese family attending the U.S. trial of an ex-University of Illinois student charged with killing their daughter says he has been explaining to them how the American justice system works.

Wednesday is the third day of jury selection at Brendt Christensen’s federal death-penalty trial. A jury will begin hearing evidence in the slaying of Yingying Zhang next week.

Zhang’s parents and brother on Monday were in Peoria where the trial is taking place. Tuesday and Wednesday they watched a remote video feed at an Urbana courthouse near the campus.

Attorney Steve Beckett told Champaign’s News-Gazette proceedings he is trying to help the family “understand why things are happening.”

The case has garnered enormous interest in China and among thousands of Chinese students in the U.S .

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