Opening statements scheduled for next week

Local News
Yingying update at 7_08473605

CENTRAL ILLINOIS (WCIA) — Yingying Zhang’s family was not present at the federal courthouse in Urbana Wednesday to watch a video feed of jury selection. Nor were they watching the proceedings live in Peoria. A family liaison says they’re feeling stressed, and stayed home.

Brendt Christensen wore a blue, buttoned shirt to day three of jury selection for his trial. He sat fidgeting his hands as the proceedings began.

US Attorney Eugene Miller told Judge James Shadid he believes the government can make their case in eight days or less. Because of that, they expect to be done presenting evidence a week-and-a-half after the trial starts. 

With no objection from Christensen’s defense team, Shadid tentatively scheduled opening statements to begin at 9 am, Wednesday, June 12.

Two more potential jurors were immediately excused on Wednesday morning: one for medical reasons, and the other because they’re in the process of moving and no longer expect to live in the area before the trial wraps up. A third was excused because of the recent death of his wife.

Around 9:30 am, remaining jurors began to be called into Shadid’s chambers for individual questioning. The process continued in the afternoon.

Most of the potential juror questioning happened in the judge’s chambers, so we don’t know how those exchanges went, but he did ask a few questions in open court, like if they had heard about the case. Most said yes.

The judge asked if based on their prior knowledge of the case, whether any of them already decided whether Christensen was innocent or guilty. Two potential jurors said they’d made up their mind about that, although they didn’t decide what they think his punishment should be if he’s found guilty. They assured the judge they could set their opinions aside and consider only what happens in court.

As of Wednesday evening, 45 potential jurors had been qualified.

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