A photo of Yingying Zhang released by the police. (Photo/police.illinois.edu)
Evidence of handprint-shaped bloodstains was found in the apartment of the man accused in the kidnapping and presumed killing of Zhang Yingying, a graduate student from China, said prosecutors.
The finding was among other evidence presented in a filing disclosed on Feb 6 by prosecutors, which they said would help prove to jurors that the 28-year-old suspect, Brendt Christensen, kidnapped Zhang in Urbana, then killed her.
Prosecutors said in the filing that they have recordings showing that Christensen "engaged in conduct that would result in her bleeding in the apartment".
The evidence also "will show the defendant took extensive steps to clean the apartment after his alleged offense, thereby preventing confirmatory testing, but leaving trace amounts that were detected by the preliminary testing", the prosecutors said.
Prosecutors said that "the identification, location and pattern of the blood (including human handprints) were consistent with the defendant's own later recorded statements as to what occurred in the apartment".
The filing was requesting that the court to deny the defendant's motion to exclude both certain blood tests and a hearing about the reliability of the DNA and blood testing used.
"On January 30, 2019, the defendant filed a supplemental memorandum in support of his motion to exclude the DNA test results," prosecutors said in the filing. "He claimed that the FBI's DNA test results are unreliable because he alleges the FBI analyst should have used a new DNA analysis methodology."
A hearing is currently scheduled for Monday on that, as well on the reliability of a cadaver-sniffing canine which, according to the defense, alerted to the presence of a body in Christensen's bathroom, The News-Gazette in Champaign, Illinois, reported.
An FBI biologist will testify at trial that she identified Zhang's DNA in Christensen's bedroom and the possible presence of blood in his bedroom and bathroom, his lawyers said in August.
However, the presence of blood was not confirmed with more testing, on his mattress, bathroom sink trap and bedroom wall and floor, the defense lawyers said, adding that the presence of blood was confirmed on a piece of carpet and a piece of baseboard.
Christensen's lawyers want the unconfirmed results excluded from the trial, which is scheduled to begin in April.
In response to this, the prosecutors said on Wednesday that blood tests don't need to be conclusive to be included at trial, instead, those tests only need to make an important fact more or less probable.
"There's substantial evidence tending to establish that the blood is the victim's blood, including DNA testing, the defendant's own statements, and the shape, pattern, and location of the stains revealed through the use of luminol," they said.
They added that blood testing has been a "standard confirmatory test for blood for over 100 years" and that "every court to have considered the issue has found that" the DNA tests used "are scientifically reliable and the results admissible". Thus, the Monday hearing is unnecessary.
Zhang, 26, went missing in Urbana, Illinois, on June 9, 2017. She was last seen then entering Christensen's car near a bus stop on the campus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she was studying agriculture. Authorities said Zhang, who was from East China's Fujian province, is presumed dead; her body has never been found.
Christensen's trial starts on April 1. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty, saying that Christensen tortured Zhang before killing her. He has pleaded not guilty to kidnapping resulting in death.