Attorney in missing UI scholar case on ‘Penny’

Robin Scholz/The News-Gazette Defense attorney's Tom, right, and Evan Bruno hold a press conference outside the Federal Courthouse in Urbana following the hearing for alleged kidnapper Brendt Christensen on Wednesday, July 5, 2017.

Wed, 08/16/2017 – 8:51am | Jeff D’Alessio

URBANA — Less than two weeks before their client’s next scheduled hearing in federal court, Brendt Christensen’s attorneys are poring over more than 1,000 pages of reports from various law-enforcement agencies connected to the government’s kidnapping case against the former University of Illinois graduate student.

It’s been 68 days since visiting Chinese scholar Yingying Zhang was last seen.

Ahead of Wednesday’s appearance on “A Penny for Your Thoughts,” Tom Bruno, head of the Urbana family law firm representing the 28-year-old man accused of kidnapping Ms. Zhang, said the government’s first batch of discovery arrived Friday afternoon.

And, “we understand the government’s evidence will also include several terabytes of video collected from various sources,” Bruno said.

“We intend to thoroughly and methodically review all the evidence. We are going to check the FBI’s work. We need to know all we can about the government’s evidence, and (this) marks the beginning of that process.”

Asked about the status and scope of the search for Ms. Zhang, whom the FBI presumes is dead, U.S. Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sharon Paul said no new detail could be provided: “The investigation remains active and ongoing.”

Christensen, who pleaded not guilty to the kidnapping charge July 20, is being held without bail at the Macon County Jail.

Attorney in missing UI scholar case on 'Penny'
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Attorney in missing UI scholar case on 'Penny'
Defense attorneys Tom, right, and Evan Bruno hold a press conference July 5, 2017, outside the federal courthouse in Urbana following a hearing for alleged kidnapper Brendt Christensen.