Day 8: Both sides rest


PEORIA, Ill. (WCIA) — After Friday’s afternoon lunch break, FBI Special Agent Andrew Huckstadt is again in the witness box being questioned by the defense.

An hour-long video of Christensen talking to a woman at the UI Counseling Center is played in court.

He admits his alcohol problem and says his main motivation to stop drinking was to lose weight because drinking interfered with his health & nutrition goals.

In the video, the defendant says he had low self-esteem and depression as a teenager. He confesses his mother was an alcoholic too. He also explains he doesn’t talk to his siblings much and doesn’t have any friends.

Christensen says he also has trouble sleeping. He adds the only point of contention in his marriage is his substance abuse which was why Michelle wanted to separate.

The defendant also details his suicidal thoughts and interest in serial killers. He admits losing his passion and feeling like a failure in physics.

The video continues playing. He says his plans on how to kill someone are far along, but he doesn’t talk to his psychiatrist much.

At the end of the video, the counselor shares available resources including counseling options, phone numbers, mobile apps, community referrals, group therapy, etc.

“I just want to make sure we have an idea of what we can do to keep you safe.”

The defense questions Huckstadt, pointing out Christensen was supposed to get a consultation during the appointment and he went back for another counseling session, repeating plans to kill with more detail and to a licensed counselor.

She again has Huckstadt confirm the FBI hasn’t corroborated Christensen killed anyone other than Zhang.

Huckstadt testifies Bullis was paid $1,000 by the FBI for services between June 16 – 21 before the walk even took place.

Nelson again questions Huckstadt and points out Christensen told the counselor and Bullis of his interest in serial killers. The judge told him to move on because it was repetitive.

The jury is excused.

The judge addresses Christensen directly, informing him of his right to choose whether or not to testify.

“Whether or not you testify is your decision. Do you understand that?”

“Yes,” says Christensen speaking in court for the first time.

The judge continues questioning the defendant about whether he understands his decision and confirming no one else is deciding for him regardless of either legal team’s possible desires.

“That’s correct,” he responds.

Both teams briefly argue about issues to the judge. Tucker challenges a transcript testimony.

Taseff challenges Hill’s credibility as a witness stating his pending theft charge gives him an interest in testifying for the government.

The defense wants to submit the counselor’s notes as evidence saying Christensen’s mental health when he made recorded statements at Zhang’s walk are the “lynchpin” of their arguments.

The jury is called back in. The defense rests its case and the government is allowed a rebuttal.

FBI Special Agent Loren Moneypenny, from the Champaign office is asked about his interview with Hill.

He testifies Hill told him Christensen got Zhang into his car using a badge and walkie-talkie.

Taseff cross-examines him and confirms Hill didn’t say the defendant had zipties or restraints. The witness steps down.

“Does that conclude the government’s evidence?” Shadid asks.

“Yes, it does, your honor,” says Miller.

Closing arguments are at 9:30 am, Monday.

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