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Lawyers for suspect in Chinese scholar’s abduction to seek trial delay

Brendt Christensen is charged with kidnapping Yingying Zhang. | Macon County Sheriff's Office

URBANA, Ill. — The suspect in the abduction of a University of Illinois scholar from China is scheduled to appear in court for a pretrial hearing.

Lawyers for Brendt Christensen indicated before Monday’s hearing that they’ll ask the federal judge overseeing the case in Urbana to delay the trial date. It’s currently scheduled to start Sept. 12. Requests by defense attorneys for more time to go through evidence are common.

Yingying Zhang disappeared June 9, weeks after arriving at the central Illinois campus. The 26-year-old was doing research in agricultural sciences and expected to begin work on her doctorate in the fall.

Investigators say they believe she’s dead. Her body’s hasn’t been found.

Christensen is suspected of abducting her in Urbana while she was going to sign an apartment lease.