Brendt Christensen, the kidnapper and killer of Chinese scholar Zhang Yingying in 2017, was sentenced on Thursday to life imprisonment without possibility of release, Judge James Shadid announced the verdict in a federal court of Peoria in the U.S. state of Illinois, after the jury failed to reach a unanimous decision on whether he should be sentenced to death or life in prison.
Zhang's parents didn't go to the courtroom to hear the verdict, and her mother cried uncontrollably in a press conference after the sentencing. Christensen looked relaxed upon hearing the verdict, and his parents were apparently satisfied with their son being spared life.
The 12-member jury last month unanimously ruled that Christensen was guilty of all three counts of charge against him, namely, kidnapping resulting in the death of Zhang in 2017, and two counts of making false statements to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
The 26-year-old Chinese scholar went missing on June 9, 2017, after getting into a black Saturn Astra about five blocks away from where she got off a bus on her way to an apartment complex to sign a lease.
Christensen was arrested on June 30, 2017, after being caught on tape pointing out people he described as "ideal victims" during a vigil in Zhang's honor.