Jury to be picked in man’s trial in Chinese scholar’s death

PEORIA, Ill. (AP) — Jury selection is expected to wrap up in the trial of a former graduate student accused of kidnapping and killing a University of Illinois scholar from China.

Brendt Christensen is charged in the 2017 death of Yingying Zhang. Her body was never found.

Jury selection began June 3 in Peoria, Illinois. Opening statements are expected Wednesday.

The case is rare instance of the U.S. Justice Department seeking the death penalty in one of the more than 20 states that doesn’t have capital punishment, drawing on U.S. laws that allow executions by federal authorities for exceptional crimes.

The Justice Department cited evidence that Christensen tortured Zhang after taking advantage of the 26-year-old woman’s small size and lack of English-speaking skills to lure her into his car.