PEORIA,Ill. (WCIA) –Yingying Zhang’s family and the whole courtroom fell silent as prosecutors played a recording of Brendt Christensen explaining how he killed the missing Chinese scholar.
The man on trial for his life was recorded explaining exactly how he says he ended another’s. Christensen is charged with kidnapping and killing U of I scholar, Yingying Zhang, two years ago. Her body has never been found — a fact the jury heard Christensen brag about on Friday.
Day three of Christensen’s trial started with the defense requesting the judge declare a mistrial for a second time. They said the prosecution claiming Christensen killed 12 other people, without evidence, could taint the jury. The prosecution said that wasn’t what they were trying to prove, so the judge kept things going.
The jury was shown a video of Christensen being interviewed by the FBI for a second time, having gone back on his own accord in hopes of “clearing things up.”
U of I Associate Professor, Martin Wu, sat with Zhang’s family in court and noted Christensen’s movement in the video.
“Very revealing that he was the last person who saw Yingying Zhang and he was really having a hard time and was feeling uncomfortable answering the questions about what he did to Yingying Zhang after got her in his car,” says Wu.
The prosecution went on to show the jury electronics the FBI seized from Christensen’s apartment. Then they began to show pictures of him and his girlfriend, Terra Bullis, at Zhang’s memorial walk in 2017 — including a video clip captured by a WCIA 3 news camera.
During the event, Bullis wore an FBI recording device and Christensen could be heard saying, “They don’t have a damn thing…they’re searching for somebody that doesn’t exist.”
He was also recorded describing how he subdued Zhang, saying “She was valiant.”
Bullis asked, “Did she fight?” Christensen responded, “She fought more than anyone else I’ve ever met.”
Then he detailed how he says he killed her.
“I got the bat and I hit her on the head as hard as I could and it broke her head open. At that point I didn’t know if she was dead or not so I had a knife and I stabbed her in the neck and she grabbed for it,” Christensen was heard saying. Then he says he chopped her head off and that her body will never be found. He also said she was his 13th victim, saying “I am apparently very good at this.”
During their cross-examination, the defense accused Bullis of egging Christensen on, and again confirmed the FBI had no evidence he killed 12 other people.
The trial resumes at 9 a.m. on Monday.