Jury selection to finish next week in Zhang Yingying's case: judge

Source:Xinhua Published: 2019/6/5 11:55:59

A jury should be formed early next week, according to a federal judge in charge of the trial of Brendt Christensen, the accused kidnapper and killer of visiting Chinese scholar Zhang Yingying at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2017.

The trial of the suspect started Monday with jury selection. On the first day of trial, 29 potential jurors had been questioned, but only 13 were pre-approved to participate in the trial of Christensen.

Chief Judge James Shadid of the US District Court in Central District of Illinois, who questioned all the potential jurors, said Monday he hoped to question 32 people each day.

Hosted by Shadid, the prosecutors and the defense lawyers will first select 70 qualified jurors from a pool of more than 470 candidates, and then further pare down the number to 12 jurors and 6 substitute jurors.

The second day of jury selection continued on Tuesday at the federal courthouse in Peoria, one and half hours' drive from the place Zhang Yingying was last seen.

Wang Zhidong, legal advisor to Zhang's family, expected the trial may last two months. After jury selection, there will be "opening statements" and "witness examination".

Then the prosecutors and the defense lawyers will present "closing arguments, which will be the final opportunity for both sides to communicate with the jury. The jury needs to decide if the defendant is guilty or not unanimously.

If the jury unanimously holds the defendant is guilty, there will be only two penalties: life in prison or death. According to US Federal law, the jury will decide if the death penalty applies or not in the case, Wang said.

Zhang, a 26-year-old visiting Chinese scholar, went missing on June 9, 2017, after getting into a black Saturn Astra about five blocks from where she got off a bus on her way to an apartment complex to sign a lease.

Christensen was arrested on June 30, 2017, after being caught on tape pointing out people he described as "ideal victims" during a vigil in Zhang's honor, but he pleaded not guilty.

Posted in: AMERICAS

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