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Man accused of killing Chinese scholar facing tougher charge

October 11, 2017 GMT

              FILE - In this undated file photo provided by the University of Illinois Police Department shows Yingying Zhang. Zhang, is a Chinese scholar who was abducted while studying at the University of Illinois on June 9, 2017. Brendt Christensen, the suspect in the kidnapping of Zhang, is to appear before a federal court judge Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017 in Urbana, Ill., on additional charges handed down by a grand jury. (Courtesy of the University of Illinois Police Department via AP File)
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FILE - In this undated file photo provided by the University of Illinois Police Department shows Yingying Zhang. Zhang, is a Chinese scholar who was abducted while studying at the University of Illinois on June 9, 2017. Brendt Christensen, the suspect in the kidnapping of Zhang, is to appear before a federal court judge Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017 in Urbana, Ill., on additional charges handed down by a grand jury. (Courtesy of the University of Illinois Police Department via AP File)
1 of 2
FILE - In this undated file photo provided by the University of Illinois Police Department shows Yingying Zhang. Zhang, is a Chinese scholar who was abducted while studying at the University of Illinois on June 9, 2017. Brendt Christensen, the suspect in the kidnapping of Zhang, is to appear before a federal court judge Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017 in Urbana, Ill., on additional charges handed down by a grand jury. (Courtesy of the University of Illinois Police Department via AP File)

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) — A man accused of abducting and killing a University of Illinois scholar from China is going to be arraigned on new charges.

Federal court records show that 28-year-old Brendt Christensen is scheduled to appear before a judge Wednesday afternoon. He previously was charged with abducting 26-year-old Yingying Zhang of Nanping, China. But a grand jury last week returned a superseding indictment charging him with the more serious crime of kidnapping resulting in Zhang’s death.

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The new indictment alleges that Christensen intentionally killed Zhang and that her death involved torture or serious physical abuse. If convicted of the new charge, Christensen would face the death penalty or mandatory life in prison.

Zhang disappeared June 9, weeks after arriving at the campus in the central Illinois city of Champaign. Even though her body hasn’t been found, authorities believe Zhang is dead.