Government shutdown affecting missing Chinese scholar case

PEORIA, Ill. (AP) — Federal public defenders for a man accused of kidnapping and killing a University of Illinois scholar from China are asking for more time to prepare their case due to the government shutdown.

The (Champaign) News-Gazette reports that Brent Christenson’s defense team Friday asked for 30 more days to amend a notice declaring their intent to pursue a mental health defense to avoid the death penalty if Christenson is convicted.

They say they’ve been unable to pay for a psychiatric evaluation of Christenson due to the shutdown.

Christenson is charged with abducting and killing Yingying Zhang in Urbana in June 2017. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty, saying they believe Christensen also tortured the 26-year-old woman. Her body hasn’t been found.

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