Man Who Raped and Murdered Chinese Scholar Escapes Death Penalty, Smiles Over Life Sentence

Yingying Zhang

The former University of Illinois graduate student, Brendt Christensen, who was found guilty of kidnapping, raping, and murdering Chinese scholar Yingying Zhang, has evaded the death penalty and has been sentenced to life in prison. 

A jury of 12 people deliberated for more than eight hours over two days, but ultimately failed to reach a unanimous decision verdict, according to wttw.

Christensen has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of release.

Prior to the sentence, U.S. District Court Judge James Shadid commented on Christensen’s “complete and total lack of remorse.”

After the jury’s announcement, Christensen smiled and bowed.

“For his unthinkable acts, he’s being held accountable. He will serve the rest of his life in prison and he will die in prison as he should for these horrendous acts,” U.S. Attorney for the Central District of Illinois John Milhiser said.

Christensen was found guilty of raping and decapitating Zhang with a baseball bat in June 2017 after picking her up at a bus stop.

Law enforcement had found that Christensen visited the fetish website, “FetLife,” prior to killing Zhang and researched the sub-threads “Perfect Abduction Fantasy,” “Planning a Kidnapping,” of a forum titled “Abduction 101.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Eugene Miller told jurors that Christensen idolized serial killers, especially Ted Bundy, who murdered dozens of women in the 1970s.

While Zhang’s family disagreed with the result of the court as said in the report, they reiterated that their goal now is to locate their daughter’s remains and finally bring her home.

“We ask the defendant to unconditionally tell us what he knows about Yingying’s location. If you have any humanity left in your soul, please help end our torment,” Zhang’s father Ronggao told the media through an interpreter.

Chisensen had previously commented, “Her family would leave empty-handed” and “She’s never going to be found. She’s gone forever.” 

Featured image via YouTube / CBS Chicago (right)


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