Defense lawyers seek delay in missing Chinese scholar trial

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Defense lawyers seek delay in missing Chinese scholar trial
FILE - This photo provided by the Macon County Sheriff's Office in Decatur, Ill., shows Brendt Christensen. U.S. prosecutors told a judge Friday, Jan 19, 2018, that they will seek the death penalty for the 28-year-old man charged with the kidnapping and killing of a University of Illinois scholar Yingying Zhang from China, also broaching new allegations that he choked and sexually assaulted someone five years ago. (Macon County Sheriff's Office via AP, File)

URBANA, Ill. (AP) — Attorneys for a man accused of kidnapping and killing a University of Illinois scholar from China have asked for a trial delay after prosecutors said they would seek the death penalty.

The (Champaign) News-Gazette reports that Brendt Christensen’s attorneys filed a motion Tuesday asking that a new trial schedule be discussed at a previously scheduled pretrial hearing. Prosecutors have until Feb. 2 to respond. The trial is scheduled to start Feb. 27.

U.S. prosecutors announced Friday that they would seek the death penalty for the former physics students charged with kidnapping and killing 26-year-old Yingying Zhang. She disappeared last June. Prosecutors say Zhang is dead. Her body hasn’t been found.

Zhang’s disappearance prompted a massive search that drew international media attention, particularly from China.

Christensen has pleaded not guilty.

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Information from: The News-Gazette, http://www.news-gazette.com