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The Latest: Jurors hear suspect say he killed scholar

PEORIA, Ill. (AP) — The Latest from the trial of a former University of Illinois doctoral student charged with slaying a visiting scholar from China (all times local):

5:45 p.m.

Prosecutors have played a secret audio recording at the trial of a former University of Illinois doctoral student charged with slaying a visiting scholar from China in which he describes how he killed her and how hard she fought back.

The (Champaign) News-Gazette reports jurors Friday listened to the recording of Brendt Christensen made by his girlfriend when she wore a wire for the FBI. It was during a campus vigil on June 29, 2017, for the missing scholar, Yingying Zhang.

Christensen is heard saying he’s been eager to tell someone he killed the 26-year-old weeks before. He describes how he choked and beat her, and describes her as “valiant” in how she resisted.

Prosecutors say Christensen had fantasized about killing someone for months. He’s heard on the recording referring to Zhang’s killing as his “legacy.”

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1:30 p.m.

Jurors in the trial of a former University of Illinois doctoral student accused of killing a visiting scholar from China are watching video of the suspect explaining to an FBI agent that the woman looked “panicky” when he spotted her and offered her a ride.

The (Champaign) News-Gazette reports that jurors on Friday watched Brendt Christensen tell an FBI agent that he wasn’t in a good mood on the June 2017 day when he spotted 26-year-old Yingying Zhang as he drove near the Champaign-Urbana campus.

Zhang’s body has never been found, but prosecutors contend Christensen kidnapped, raped and beat Zhang to death and decapitated her. His trial is in federal court.

Defense attorneys seeking to spare him a possible death sentence have told jurors that he killed Zhang.

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Information from: The News-Gazette, http://www.news-gazette.com

Associated Press

Associated Press

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