PEORIA, Ill. -- A jury has been selected in the trial of a former graduate student accused of kidnapping and killing a University of Illinois scholar from China.

A federal judge in Peoria, Illinois, told jurors to return Wednesday for opening statements. Brendt Christensen could be sentenced to death if convicted in the 2017 slaying of Yingying Zhang, whose body hasn't been found.

The case is a rare instance of the U.S. Justice Department seeking the death penalty in one of the more than 20 states that doesn't have capital punishment. Federal law allows executions for exceptional crimes.

The Justice Department cited evidence that Christensen tortured Zhang after taking advantage of the 26-year-old woman's small size and lack of English-speaking skills to lure her into his car.

Jury selection began June 3.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.

Thank you for Reading!

Please log in, or sign up for a new account and purchase a subscription to read or post comments.