Christensen’s lawyers apologize for delaying trial

By The Daily Illini Staff Report

In a recently unsealed motion, lawyers of Brendt Christensen, accused kidnapper and killer of visiting University scholar Yingying Zhang, explained their reasons behind seeking delays for trial. 

Lawyers of the accused cited that Christensen’s retained psychiatrist would not have sufficient time to prepare an expert testimony by the trial currently scheduled to start in April.

If convicted, Christensen’s lawyers plan to avoid the death penalty by arguing the accused is severely mentally ill.

The defense team filed a motion on Feb. 8 requesting to delay the trial to July 1 after finding a new psychiatrist who would be prepared to testify by that date. Christensen’s lawyers apologized to the court for incompetently handling the situation.

Julie Brain, the lawyer in charge of the mental health portion of Christensen’s case, knew the psychiatrist they retained wouldn’t be ready by April since November. The psychiatrist said he would be ready for trial in fall 2019 at the earliest.

According to the motion, this information was not shared with the rest of the defense team until February this year.

U.S. District Judge James Shadid is expected to rule on the defense team’s request today and said he would take a day to choose a trial start date that would accommodate both the defense and prosecutors.

Shadid reprimanded the defense team during a hearing on Monday for not finding another psychiatrist sooner, which would have prevented them from filing a late motion to delay the trial.

Prosecutors alleged the defense purposely waited to seek delay as part of a strategic move. Assistant Federal Defender Robert Tucker apologized and denied these allegations.

Tucker said it was a mistake made by the defense team which Christensen shouldn’t be punished against.

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