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Father of killer of scholar takes stand in death-penalty hearing: 'I love him, nothing's going to stop that'

Jamie Munks, Chicago Tribune on

Published in News & Features

"Did you tell your son when he was exonerated you were going to find Yingying's father and tell him he should be ashamed of himself?" Nelson asked.

Christensen said he was aware there was a widely held presumption that his son was guilty and acknowledged he would have said something to Zhang's father and other people who assumed Brendt Christensen's guilt if he was exonerated. He denied saying he would "find him," and a recording of the call was not played in court during his testimony.

Also testifying was Brendt's uncle, Mark Christensen, who said several family members, including himself, are alcoholics. He said he has not seen Brendt, 30, since he was 12 years old but called him a "happy-go-lucky kid that always had a smile on his face."

Mark Christensen called it "horrendous" and "a travesty" when asked for his thoughts about the crime.

"I feel terrible for her family," he said. "It's unimaginable. It's unimaginable. It's not Brendt. I don't know what happened."

Also on Wednesday, defense attorneys made a motion for a mistrial related to a juror abruptly leaving the courtroom crying Tuesday, while Zhang's mother's recorded video testimony was playing. Pollock said the juror's behavior could have influenced other jurors.


U.S. District Judge James Shadid denied the motion for a mistrial and declined to dismiss the juror who left Tuesday.

Testimony was continuing Wednesday afternoon, with defense attorneys expecting to call Christensen's first-grade teacher, a childhood friend and a friend of his mother's.

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