Jury convicts Illinois man of Chinese graduate student's kidnap-murder

 Jury convicts Illinois man of Chinese graduate students kidnap-murder

By Bob Chiarito

PEORIA, Ill. (Reuters) - A jury found an Illinois man guilty of kidnapping and murder on Monday in the killing of a Chinese graduate student two years ago, capping an eight-day federal court trial in Peoria.

The jury deliberated for less than two hours before convicting Brendt Christensen, 29, in the June 2017 abduction and murder of Yingying Zhang, a 26-year-old student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Zhang's body has not been found, but prosecutors said an evidence team matched her DNA to blood found in three places in Christensen's bedroom.

Federal prosecutors trying the case in U.S. District Court have said they planned to seek the death penalty if Christensen were found guilty, even though the state of Illinois has outlawed capital punishment in state court.

During closing arguments on Monday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Eugene Miller told jurors Christensen had spent up to six months planning a murder and had chosen Zhang because she was small and appeared to be an easy target.

(Reporting by Bob Chiarito; additional reporting by Gabriella Borter in New York; editing by Frank McGurty and Tom Brown)

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Updated Date: Jun 25, 2019 02:09:24 IST