Attorneys for Brendt Christensen, accused kidnapper and murderer of Chinese visiting scholar Zhang Yingying, have requested more time to decide if they'll present a mental health defense in court, according to U.S. media. If granted, the trial scheduled to begin on April 3 may be postponed.
According to the report, the suspect's defense team submitted a 30-page motion on Sept. 21, asking Judge James Shadid for a hearing on their request.
It was reported the defense team hopes to have three mental health experts from different fields evaluate Christensen.
Based on what they learned, they have hired two of the three, but neither has seen Christensen yet. One is scheduled to see him in October and the other in October or November.
The lawyers said they hope to know by December when those two will be able to give their opinions. By December, they added, the third expert will have been hired and should be able to give them a timetable for getting Christensen evaluated and offering an opinion.
Christensen, 29, who has a master's degree in physics from the University of Illinois, was arrested on charges of kidnapping Zhang on June 30, 2017.
The 26-year-old woman from China was last seen June 9, 2017, at a campus bus stop. Her body has never been found. Authorities declared her dead in absentia.
Thirteen weeks later, a federal grand jury indicted Christensen on additional charges of kidnapping resulting in death and lying to the FBI.
According to reports, defense lawyers questioned the reliability of DNA evidence found in Christensen's Urbana-Champaign apartment and the training of the dog used to sniff-search the apartment.
Just before the deadline on Aug. 24, defense lawyers filed more than 500 pages of motions.