FILE - This photo provided by the Macon County Sheriff's Office in Decatur, Ill., shows Brendt Christensen. Jury selection starts Monday, June 3, 2019 in Peoria, Ill., for the federal trial of Christensen in the 2017 disappearance and suspected killing of Yingying Zhang, a visiting scholar from China whose body hasn’t been found. (Macon County Sheriff's Office via AP, File)

Illinois man set for trial in missing Chinese scholar case

June 02, 2019 - 11:31 am

CHICAGO (AP) — A former University of Illinois graduate student is set to stand trial in the 2017 disappearance and suspected killing of a visiting scholar from China whose body hasn't been found.

Jury selection starts Monday in Peoria for the federal trial of 29-year-old Brent Christensen, who could get the death penalty if he's convicted.

Prosecutors allege that Christensen abducted, tortured and killed 26-year-old Yingying Zhang, who was studying at the university's flagship campus in Champaign. Her family has flown in from China for the trial.

Authorities say Zhang was running late for an appointment the day she disappeared and allege that Christensen tricked or forced her to get into his car. Christensen told the FBI that he dropped her off a few blocks away.

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