Jury deliberates for 2nd day on penalty in scholar’s slaying

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FILE – This file photo provided by the Macon County Sheriff’s Office in Decatur, Ill., shows Brendt Christensen. Andrea Christensen, the sister of former University of Illinois student Brendt Christensen who is convicted of killing a Chinese scholar, told a jury, Monday, July 15, 2019, deciding whether he should be executed that he was a “very gentle person” who never raised his voice. (Macon County Sheriff’s Office via AP, File)

PEORIA, Ill. (AP) —  Jurors are set to resume deliberations on whether an ex-University of Illinois doctoral student deserves the death penalty for slaying a 26-year-old scholar from China.

Thursday will be their second day of deliberations on whether Brendt Christensen should die or spend the rest his life behind bars for abducting Yingying Zhang, raping her and beating her to death with a bat.

Jurors started deliberating Wednesday after closing arguments in Peoria federal court. The judge excused them after three hours.

The same jurors took less than 90 minutes to convict the 30-year-old at trial last month.

Their task in the penalty stage is harder and the stakes much higher. They must answer difficult questions, including whether Christensen displayed unique cruelty in how he killed Zhang and whether he exhibited redeeming qualities in his life.

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