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Defense once again denied mistrial request in U of I kidnapping case

On day three of United States vs. Brendt Christensen the defense once again asked the judge for a mistrial but this time regarding FBI recorded conversations between the defendant and a girlfriend where he talks about having killed 12 other people.

During opening statements, the defense said their client was responsible for the 2017 death of U of I Scholar Yingying Zhang but say since the FBI never found any evidence linking him to any unsolved murders his claims of being a “serial killer” are drunken ramblings.

On Friday the defense asked the judge for a mistrial saying the prosecution wants the jury to infer that Christensen’s statements are factual. The judge denied the motion saying he had not heard the government say directly they did not believe the statements were true, but they did say there was no evidence to corroborate them.

Later in the day, the family of Zhang heard Christensen on a recording talk in detail about how he murdered the 26-year-old. The conversation was recorded the day of a memorial walk for Zhang and about an hour in Christensen confesses to having killed Zhang and 12 other people.

He described Zhang as “the most resilient victim he’d ever had” and called the way she fought him off “supernatural.” In detail, he said he killed Zhang in his bathtub, tried to choke her to death, hit her with a baseball bat and stabbed her in the neck before “chopping off her head.”

His girlfriend is heard on the recording asking him if he “always makes his victims disappear” to which he responds “yes.” Christensen said he lived a “double life” and that he had more victims than John Wayne Gacy and Jeffrey Dahmer.

The prosecutors also showed the jury a clip of Christensen at a counseling session at the University of Illinois where he talks about having thoughts of harming himself and others. Earlier in the week, the defense told the jury the session proves the state of mind Christensen was in at the time and serves as proof he sought help.

The trial will resume at 9:15 a.m. at the Federal Courthouse in Peoria on Monday.


Stephanie Rodriguez

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