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Judge sets April 2019 trial in missing Chinese scholar case

February 12, 2018

FILE - This photo provided by the Macon County Sheriff's Office in Decatur, Ill., shows Brendt Christensen. Lawyers for Christensen, a former physics student accused of kidnapping and killing Yingying Zhang, a University of Illinois scholar from China, intend to ask the presiding federal judge to recuse himself in the death penalty case. A two-page filing in central Illinois federal filed Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018, doesn't spell out why Christensen's attorneys think Judge Colin Stirling Bruce should step aside. (Macon County Sheriff's Office via AP, File)

URBANA, Ill. (AP) — A federal judge has set an April 2019 trial date for a former physics student accused of kidnapping and killing a University of Illinois scholar from China.

The (Champaign) News-Gazette reports that U.S. District Court Judge Colin Bruce set the date during a hearing Monday. Prosecutors announced Jan. 19 they would seek capital punishment. They say Brendt Christensen allegedly tortured 26-year-old Yingying Zhang before killing her.

Neither prosecutors nor Christensen’s attorneys objected to the new trial date. The trial had been scheduled to begin later this month, but both prosecutors and defense attorneys requested that it be delayed.

Christensen was arrested last June, three weeks after Zhang disappeared. Her body hasn’t been found. Christensen has pleaded not guilty to kidnapping resulting in death.

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Information from: The News-Gazette, http://www.news-gazette.com

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