- Associated Press - Thursday, February 15, 2018

CHICAGO (AP) - Prosecutors say they’ve held talks on a possible plea deal with the suspect charged with kidnapping and killing a University of Illinois scholar from China.

Prosecutors disclosed the talks in an Urbana federal court filing which offered no additional details. They recently said they’ll seek the death penalty for Brendt Christensen, citing how he allegedly tortured 26-year-old Yingying Zhang before killing her. Her body hasn’t been found.

Such pretrial talks are not unusual. They often involve defendants offering cooperation for a lesser sentence. But what Christensen could offer and whether prosecutors would be willing to recommend a punishment other than death isn’t clear.

Wednesday’s filing focused on a request to unseal certain court papers. In addressing that issue, prosecutors revealed the talks.

Trial is set for April 2, 2019.

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