Jury To Consider Death Penalty In Chinese Scholar Killing Case

Pat Cassidy
July 05, 2019 - 5:47 pm

Courtesy of the University of Illinois Police Department via AP

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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- A federal jury must now decide whether a former University of Illinois doctoral student should be put to death for the murder of young Chinese scholar Yingying Zhang. 

The federal jury convicted 30-year-old Brendt Christensen of her kidnapping, torture and death. But while there is no death penalty anymore in the state of Illinois, capitol punishment is still in play in this case because it was brought under federal law, which does allow it.

If one juror holds out against the death penalty, Christensen would get life in prison without parole. The rules of evidence are looser in the federal penalty phase, allowing hearsay, opinion and emotion. If the jury votes for death, appeals can delay executions for decades.