Justice for Yingying Zhang

A swelling crowd outside Urbana’s federal courtroom building could be overheard chanting “Justice for Yingying” at Brendt Christensen’s accusal hearing this morning, which lasted a mere nine minutes. Christensen is in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service, being held without bond. He will face a judge again on July 5 to determine bond. The indictment hearing is scheduled for July 14, unless there is an indictment from a grand jury prior to that date.

Brendt Christensen’s booking photo

Today’s hearing had to be moved to a larger courtroom to accommodate the members of both families, Yingying’s and Christensen’s. Donning a prison jumpsuit, shackles at the ankles, and dead eyes, Christensen remained silent during the hearing, speaking only to acknowledge understanding of his rights. At minimum, Christensen faces up to life in prison for the kidnapping charge. In federal kidnapping cases where a death has occurred, the penalty is  either mandatory life or the death penalty.

Newlyweds Brendt and Michelle Christensen in 2012, standing in front of the 2008 Saturn Astra that was used to kidnap Yingying Zhang on June 9, 2017.

The day before he was arrested, Christensen brazenly attended the walk for Yingying, smiling while in the arm of an unknown woman who is not his wife.

Meanwhile, Yingying is still missing.

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