Murderer of visiting Chinese scholar found guilty in the US; death penalty sought

Source:Global Times Published: 2019/6/25 22:43:40

Murderer of visiting scholar found guilty; death penalty sought

Ye Lifeng (second from right) lets out a wail of grief as her husband Zhang Ronggao (left), the father of slain University of Illinois scholar Zhang Yingying, reads a statement to the media outside the US Courthouse in Peoria, Illinois, on Monday, after a federal jury found Brendt Christensen guilty of kidnapping and murdering Zhang Yingying. Photo: VCG

China's Foreign Ministry on Tuesday urged the US judicial department on Tuesday to "try the case fairly and bring the killer to justice" after a US jury found Brendt Christensen, a former University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) doctoral student, guilty of kidnapping and murdering visiting Chinese scholar Zhang Yingying in 2017.

Experts said the conviction gave prosecutors more confidence in seeking the death penalty against Christensen.

The 12-member panel at a federal court in Peoria, Illinois unanimously found Christensen, 29, guilty on all three counts against him, namely, kidnapping resulting in Zhang's death in 2017, and two counts of making false statements to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Xinhua News Agency reported Tuesday.

At a press conference outside the courtroom, Zhang Ronggao, the father of Zhang Yingying, told Xinhua he was satisfied with the verdict. "I thank the jury for this step toward justice."

Zhang's father said he further hoped that justice will be done in the sentencing scheduled on July 8 when the same jury will decide whether the death penalty would be imposed, media reported.

The conviction has also cheered Chinese netizens, with many strongly calling for the death penalty on Christensen. The topic, "the suspect in Zhang Yingying case was found guilty of murder," had been viewed 150 million times as of press time.

The process was "very fast," which means there was no dispute within the jury and the evidence was conclusive, Wang Taihe, a trial lawyer, was quoted as saying by The Beijing News on Wednesday.

"The fast conviction gave prosecutors more confidence in seeking the death penalty (against Christensen)," Wang said.

The state of Illinois abolished capital punishment in 2011. Christensen still faces a possible death sentence if he is convicted. That's because he was charged in federal court for a federal crime. Federal prosecutors can seek the death penalty regardless of where it is believed to have occurred, or where the defendant lives.

The death penalty is based on factors such as subjective malignancy of the crime, brutality of the crime and whether the suspect cooperates with prosecutors, said Wang. In the US, the death penalty is "very difficult" to obtain, Wang noted.

Global Times

Newspaper headline: Murderer of visiting scholar found guilty; death penalty sought


blog comments powered by Disqus