Jury for Brendt Christensen’s trial will be seated by Tuesday


Samantha Boyle

The Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse sits at 100 Northeast St. in Peoria. The trial for Brendt Christensen, alleged kidnapper and murderer of Yingying Zhang, began here June 3 with the jury selection process. The defense and prosecutors made their closing statements Monday.

By Samantha Boyle, News Editor

Opening statements for Brendt Christensen’s trial will begin Wednesday.

Christensen is the alleged kidnapper and killer of visiting scholar Yingying Zhang and is being charged by the federal government for kidnapping resulting in death. Christensen is also facing two nonfederal charges for giving false statements. He has pleaded not guilty to all three charges.   

Seventy potential jurors qualified on Monday, meaning the rest of the potential jurors are released from jury duty and a seated jury will be chosen from the group of 70. Both the prosecutors and defense will narrow down the potential jurors to 12 and six alternates on Tuesday. Each side will alternate in “striking out” jurors until they are down to 18.

The opening statements will mark the start of the guilty/not guilty phase, which Judge James Shadid said could last about two to three weeks.

After both sides make their arguments, the jury will be able to discuss and decide the verdict, which will determine whether or not a sentencing phase will be necessary. If the jury finds Christensen guilty, a sentencing phase, which could also last up to three weeks, will be needed. This is when the jury will decide if the appropriate sentencing is the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole. However, if the jury finds Christensen to be not guilty, a sentencing phase will not be necessary.

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