Motions denied in Christensen case

By The Daily Illini staff report

Attempts made by the attorney of Brendt Christensen, alleged kidnapper and murderer of Chinese visiting scholar Yingying Zhang, to dismiss the death-penalty case and suppress evidence failed when U.S. District Court Judge James Shadid denied six motions made last month on Jan. 14.

Christensen is due to stand trial in April.

Michelle Zortman, Christensen’s wife, who has filed for divorce, testified that her apartment was searched without her consent at the time of last month’s hearings. This contradicted FBI agents’ testimony, as they said they obtained voluntary consent before the search.

In rulings released to the public on Jan. 14, Shadid said the search was conducted lawfully. Evidence acquired from the search should therefore not be neglected.

Shadid also denied the motions to suppress the following: Christensen’s activity in jail; statements he made to his girlfriend, wife and law enforcement; recordings of Christensen taped secretly by his girlfriend; a motion stating the federal death penalty was unconstitutional.

Andrew Leipold, professor in Law, said the attorneys were just doing their jobs.

“They had grounds for thinking that the evidence had been obtained were in violation of Mr. Christensen’s rights, so they did what defense lawyers are supposed to do, which is advocate for the behalf of their client and try to vindicate those rights through the process,” he said.

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