Lifeng Ye, the mother of slain University of Illinois scholar Yingying Zhang, cries out in grief as her husband Ronggao Zhang, far left, addresses the media after a jury found Brendt Christensen guilty of her murder Monday, June 24, 2019 outside the U.S. Federal Courthouse in Peoria, Ill. Consoling her is her son Zhengyang Zhang, far right, and family friend Dr. Kim Tee. (Matt Dayhoff/Journal Star via AP)

Defense: Chinese scholar's killer offered to locate body

June 26, 2019 - 10:20 am

CHICAGO (AP) — Lawyers for a former University of Illinois doctoral student convicted of killing a scholar from China says he offered after his arrest to divulge where her remains are in exchange for a life sentence.

The revelation came in a late Tuesday filing. Jurors convicted Brendt Christensen Monday of kidnapping Yingying Zhang in in 2017, raping and beating her to death with a bat. Her body was never found.

Legal observers had expected Christensen to use the whereabouts of Zhang's remains as a bargaining chip to get federal prosecutors to abandon any push for the death penalty. There was no word he tried until now.

The filing asks the judge to bar statements at an upcoming sentencing phase suggesting Christensen refused to locate Zhang's remains.

Prosecutors declined comment.