The Latest: Closing arguments next in scholar’s murder trial

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A judge has set closing arguments for Monday after a former University of Illinois student accused of killing a scholar from China declined to testify in a trial that could lead to the death penalty …

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The Latest on the trial of a man who could get the federal death penalty if convicted of killing an international scholar who was studying at the University of Illinois: (all times local):

4 p.m.

A judge has set closing arguments for Monday after a former University of Illinois student accused of killing a scholar from China declined to testify at a trial that could lead to the death penalty.

Prosecutors and Brendt Christensen’s lawyers rested their cases Friday in federal court in Peoria, Illinois. Christensen told a judge that he understood his right to testify but would remain silent.

The 29-year-old Christensen is accused of luring Yingying Zhang into his car in 2017 and killing her at his apartment. Her body hasn’t been found. Defense lawyers have acknowledged that Christensen killed the 26-year-old.

His lawyers called his ex-wife as a witness. Michelle Zortman told jurors that Christensen showed her a blood stain on a mattress and claimed it was from a bloody nose.

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12:22 p.m.

Prosecutors have rested their case in the trial of a former University of Illinois student who could get the death penalty if convicted of killing a scholar from China.

Brendt Christensen’s lawyers called his ex-wife as a witness Friday. Michelle Zortman told jurors that Christensen showed her a blood stain on a mattress and claimed it was from a bloody nose.

The 29-year-old Christensen is accused of luring Yingying Zhang into his car in 2017 and killing her at his apartment. Prosecutors say she was raped, choked and stabbed. Her body hasn’t been found.

Christensen’s lawyers told jurors that he killed the 26-year-old Zhang, but they dispute some details about why he did it. They’re hoping they can persuade the jury to reject a death sentence if he’s convicted.

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