New charges in death of U of I transfer student

A 28-year-old accused in the abduction of a University of Illinois scholar from China has pleaded not guilty to a new, more serious charge of kidnapping resulting in death.

Brendt Christensen was already facing a kidnapping charge.

But a grand jury last week returned a superseding indictment that included allegations that Ying Ying Zhang’s death involved torture or serious physical abuse.

The 26-year-old Zhang was last seen June 9. She is presumed dead, though her body hasn’t been found.

The new charge carries a possible death penalty or mandatory life sentence.

The trial is scheduled for Feb. 27.