2 week wait for penalty phase


CENTRAL ILLINOIS (WCIA) — It’s step one in a process; a process which is far from over.

Monday, Brendt Christensen was found guilty of kidnapping leading to the death of Yingying Zhang, as well as lying to the FBI during its investigation. The sentencing phase has yet to begin. Monday was at least some sort of victory.

It’s important Yingying gets the justice she deserves in this case, but every single time they have to listen to the gruesome details, it’s difficult. The family’s attorney, Steve Beckett, says there have been times when the trial has been “unbearable” for the family.

Their statement thanks everyone who helped with the case, especially Terra Bullis, Christensen’s former girlfriend, and Emily Hogan, who said she had been approached by Christensen earlier in the day, offering her a ride.

Zhang’s family also said they still want to find Yingying.

Christensen was found guilty of kidnapping leading to death, but her remains have never been recovered.

In two weeks, the sentencing phase of the trial starts. Some family members will testify during that phase. It’s still unclear who it will be.

Beckett says it will likely be Zhang’s father and boyfriend. Whether or not her brother will testify is unknown. As far as her mother, Beckett says she is still very emotionally distraught.

When asked what the family hopes for in the penalty phase, they said they would leave the decision up to the jury and, no matter the outcome, they believe justice will be served. The family never specifically hoped for the death penalty, they only asked prosecutors to consider it.

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