Defense admits Christensen killed Zhang

Local News

PEORIA, Ill. (WCIA) — Opening statements in Brendt Christensen’s murder trial began at 9 a.m. Wednesday.

Prosecutors say he kidnapped and killed Yingying Zhang in June 2017 and covered it up.

His defense attorneys, in their opening statement, say “Brendt Christensen is responsible for the death of Yingying Zhang. He killed Yingying Zhang and nothing we say or do during this phase of the trial will be an attempt to sidestep or deny that.”

The defense case will hinge on mitigating circumstances including Christensen’s mental health. It will also call into question some of the things Christensen is heard saying on FBI recordings.

The defense seems to include Christensen himself is a victim; a victim of failed counselors in the mental health system, a man who had a lot of things going on in his life and was in a downward spiral.

U.S. Assistant Attorney Eugene Miller shared gruesome details of Zhang’s murder in his opening statement.

He said Christensen took Zhang to his apartment, raped her, tied her up, put her in the bathtub, hit her in the head with a baseball bat, stabbed her in the neck and cut her head off.

A woman Christensen was dating during the course of his divorce is expected to testify Wednesday afternoon. 

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