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U.S. to seek death penalty in kidnapping of Chinese scholar

U.S. to seek death penalty in kidnapping of Chinese scholar

USA prosecutors announced on Friday (Jan 19) they will seek the death penalty for a man accused of kidnapping and torture in the death of a visiting scholar from China, after President Donald Trump's administration called for using capital punishment in more cases.

The filing holds the circumstances of the offense of kidnapping resulting in death, as charged in count one of the superseding indictment returned on October 3, 2017, justify a death sentence, provided Christensen is found guilty.

Her grieving father was still in the country in November a year ago after authorities said she was presumed dead.

The filing in U.S. District Court in central IL provides several reasons for why the death penalty is called for in Brendt Christensen's case, including because he allegedly tortured 26-year-old Yingying Zhang before killing her.

Earlier this week, Christensen's attorneys filed several motions including one that sought to move the case out of the U.S. District Court in Central Illinois - citing a "journalistic tsunami" of media attention and comparing the coverage to a 1997 firebombing of a Central District court.

Ms. Zhang's family in China reacted through Urbana attorney Steve Beckett. They wanted their daughter to come home and if not, they want her remains to come home.

The new allegation is that Christensen "choked and sexually assaulted" someone referred to only by the initials "M.D." in 2013 in central IL.

Читайте также: North Korea cancels Olympic preparation visit to South

The indictment alleges he held Yingying Zhang captive and that he used a cellphone and a Saturn Astra to commit the crime that resulted in her death.

IL has abolished prisoner executions, but because the case is charged in federal court, the death penalty remains an option.

Christensen's trial is scheduled for February 27.

'A message seeking comment from Christensen's attorney, Robert Tucker, wasn't immediately returned.

The indictment also charged Christensen with two new counts of making false statements to Federal Bureau of Investigation agents.

Patton declined to speculate how much more time the defense will ask for from Judge Colin Bruce, who said previously he would be open to the request once the government had made a death penalty decision.

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