US murder suspect lacked adequate care
Before allegedly kidnapping and killing visiting Chinese scholar Zhang Yingying in 2017, suspect Brendt Christensen already turned to University of Illinois Counseling Center for help with his suicidal and homicidal thoughts, according to documents unsealed this week.
In the defense motion, lawyers for the former University of Illinois student said university counselors didn’t offer him adequate care when he sought help for suicidal and homicidal thoughts three months before Zhang went missing.
In the March 2017 interview at the UI counseling center, Christensen said he had been abusing alcohol and Vicodin, had expressed an interest in serial killers, and was depressed after dropping out of the physics PhD program at the UI and because his wife proposed opening up their marriage of nine years.
In a bid to avoid the death penalty if he is convicted at his trial in June, Christensen’s lawyers want to bring in an expert to argue that the UI could have done more to help Christensen by providing better followup care. But at Monday’s hearing in a federal court, Assistant US Attorney Eugene Miller said prosecutors had an expert who believed the UI counseling center did what it was supposed to do, according to The News-Gazette.
Much of the discussion on Monday was behind closed doors, so it’s unclear if US District Judge James Shadid has ruled on the motion.
Zhang, 26, went missing on June 9, 2017, after getting into a black Saturn Astra about five blocks 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.
On July 5, 2017, US Magistrate Judge Eric Long ordered that Christensen remain detained in the custody of the US Marshals Service pending trial.