PEORIA, Ill. (WCIA) — US Attorneys and Brendt Christensen’s defense team met in court one last time before his trial is expected to begin.
Christensen is charged with kidnapping resulting in the death of visiting UI scholar Yingying Zhang, in June 2017. Her body has never been found. Christensen pleaded not guilty.
Jury selection is set to start Monday, with 30 or more potential jurors expected to be called that day; 16 in both the morning and afternoon. The process will continue throughout the week.
Jurors will be asked if they recognize any people on the witness list or anyone on either legal team in the courtroom.
Judge James Shadid expects a total jury pool of 70 by June 10. At that time, a jury of 12 with 6 alternates will be chosen. Opening statements are expected shortly after that.
Both legal teams submitted juror instructions. From those, Shadid says he’ll craft his own version to give to potential jurors.
With an 18-person jury, more than 40 members of the media expected, and family and friends of Zhang and Christensen during the trial, Shadid established a courtroom layout to keep the proceedings organized.
Shadid also reviewed motions regarding testimony of potential witnesses who may be called during sentencing if a guilty verdict is reached.