Hundreds outside courthouse as abduction suspect has hearing
CHICAGO – Michael Tarm reports: Hundreds of people gathered outside a federal courthouse Monday as the suspect in the kidnapping of a Chinese scholar at the University of Illinois made his first appearance since being arrested last week.
During the nine-minute hearing, 28-year-old Brendt Christensen acknowledged to the judge that he understood his rights, but did not say anything else. U.S. Magistrate Eric Long ordered Christensen held without bond in the kidnapping of Yingying Zhang. Authorities say facts in the case indicate the 26-year-old Zhang is dead, although her body hasn’t been found.
Long ordered Christensen to return to the court in Urbana on Wednesday to determine bond. A preliminary hearing was set for July 14, but that would be waived if a grand jury returns an indictment before then. The federal kidnapping charge carries a maximum sentence of life in prison, according to a U.S. attorney’s office spokeswoman.
The (Champaign) News-Gazette reported that about 45 people attended the hearing Monday morning, with another crowd in the courthouse lobby and yet more people across the street, many chanting “Justice for Yingying.”
After the hearing, Christensen’s attorney Evan Bruno said he has talked to Christensen a few times, but that “this case is very young and we haven’t had a really full opportunity to develop everything yet.”
Bruno asked the public to “be patient, to keep an open mind, wait till the evidence comes in.”
He described his client as a “very intelligent guy” who has no criminal history. “He has a speeding ticket, I think, but that’s about it,” Bruno said.
Bruno added that Christensen is married, but that he and his wife do not have any children, according to the newspaper. He said Christensen, who recently earned a master’s degree in physics from the University of Illinois, is not employed but has been looking for a job … (read more)
via Miami Herald