Missing Chinese Scholar: Jury selection begins in Illinois kidnap-murder trial
Jury selection has begun in the trial of a man alleged to have murdered Chinese scholar Zhang Yingying. She disappeared two years ago in the city of Urbana, in the US state of Illinois. Authorities say the suspect kidnapped her and then killed her. CGTN's Dan Williams has the story from Peoria.
It's a trial being closely watched from the US to China. The family of Zhang Yingying, the Chinese scholar who disappeared almost two years ago, arrived at Peoria's federal courthouse. Brendt Christensen is charged with abducting and killing Yingying. Her body has not been found. It's being prosecuted as a federal case, with Christensen facing the death penalty. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
DAN WILLIAMS PEORIA, ILLINOIS "Brendt Christensen walked into the courthouse shortly before nine o'clock wearing a blue shirt and beige trousers. The jury selection is expected to take more than a week. The judge told the court that the trial could last some two months in all."
For Yingying's family, some comfort the trial is underway.
ZHIDONG WANG ZHANG FAMILY ATTORNEY "The family is glad that the trial has finally started and also, from all the attention that they understand that Yingying has not been forgotten, so in that sense, it is a relief."
Yingying was last seen getting into this car at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign on her way to view an off-campus apartment in June 2017. Authorities say Christensen was the driver.
Thousands of Chinese students at the school took part in a week-long search. Student representatives were at the court on Monday.
HOWARD YAN VICE PRESIDENT, CHINESE STUDENT & SCHOLARS ASSOCIATION "At first, it was a pretty bad news to all the student body and then we just moved to caring about what is going on. And we want to know the investigation evolve. And we just want to know what the result will be."
Yingying's mother is convinced Christensen kidnapped her daughter and hopes he will give her back. Dan Williams, CGTN, Peoria, Illinois.