Brendt Christensen to receive life in prison for murder, avoids death penalty

Local News

FILE – This photo provided by the Macon County Sheriff’s Office in Decatur, Ill., shows Brendt Christensen. The former University of Illinois doctoral student on trial in the killing of a visiting scholar from China bought Drano and garbage bags three days after the slaying, according to testimony Thursday, June 13, 2019. (Macon County Sheriff’s Office via AP, File)

PEORIA, Ill. — Convicted murder Brendt Christensen is set to live life behind bars.

The jury was ultimately unable to make a unanimous finding, meaning the court will be required to impose sentencing Christensen to life in prison without any chances of parole. His full sentencing will begin at 4 p.m. in federal court Thursday.

The jury, made up of 12 people, deliberated for approximately three hours Wednesday, and continued at 9 a.m. Thursday, deciding between the death penalty and life in prison.

Christensen was convicted in June for kidnapping and killing Chinese scholar Yingying Zhang back in 2017. Prosecutors said he raped her, then beat her to death with a baseball bat and decapitated her.

All 12 jurors had to agree to impose the death penalty for it to be implemented. The same group of jurors took less than 90 minutes to convict Christensen at his last trial.

Christensen was a former doctoral student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The death penalty was abolished in 2011, but U.S. laws allow executions by federal authorities.

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