The jury in the trial of Brendt Christensen, who was convicted of kidnapping and murdering Chinese scholar Zhang Yingying, will decide over the next two weeks whether he should be put to death for his crime.
On June 24, the jury found Christensen guilty of the kidnapping and murder of Zhang, and of two charges of lying to federal authorities.
The jury must reach a unanimous decision for Christensen to be sentenced to death.
Wang Zhidong, Zhang's family attorney, told the Global Times that Zhang's family had clearly stated their expectation for the prosecutor to consider and request the death penalty.
Even if Christensen does not get the death sentence, he will not have his freedom back, Wang said.
"Under the three charges, he will face either the death penalty or life imprisonment with no release on bail," Wang pointed out.
"Half a year after the crime, the suspect proposed to Zhang's family that he would like to trade his freedom for information of what he did with the body and the location in 2017," Wang said, adding that "The family agreed, but the suspect then said that he had no way of determining if the body could be found based on his input," Wang said.
On June 24, Zhang Ronggao, Zhang's father, said, "We hope and believe that this trial will eventually bring justice to Yingying and us. Our wish has always been to find Yingying and bring her home. We will not give up."
Wang also said that Christensen's lawyer filed two motions to the court, requesting exclusion of part of the evidence from the prosecution and postponing the sentencing phase until July 29.
The reason for the defense lawyer's motions was due to video evidence that the prosecutor was to present in the penalty phase, which included video clips recorded during interviews with seven friends of Zhang, which are all conducted in Chinese and last 17 hours.
U.S. District Judge James Shadid issued the ruling on Wednesday, and set sentencing to begin on Monday, local time.
"We believe that the prosecutor has submitted a list of evidence for the penalty phase in accordance with the time specified in the court proceedings," Wang said.