Sister of man who killed Chinese scholar: He was 'gentle'

FILE - This photo provided by the Macon County Sheriff's Office in Decatur, Ill., shows Brendt Christensen. Jurors who will decide whether the former University of Illinois doctoral student should be executed for the kidnapping and brutal slaying of a Chinese scholar are hearing about what the victim meant to those closest to her. A federal jury that last month found Christensen guilty in the killing is deciding if he should be put to death. (Macon County Sheriff's Office via AP, File)

PEORIA, Ill. — The sister of a former University of Illinois student convicted of killing a Chinese scholar told a jury deciding whether he should be executed that he was a "very gentle person" who never raised his voice.

Andrea Christensen was the last witness that lawyers for Brendt Christensen called to the stand Monday. The defense plans to rest its case in the penalty phase on Tuesday.

Earlier Monday, Christensen's mother, Ellen Williams, testified that the 2017 slaying of Yingying Zhang was "horrible" and she feels "bad." But she said it would be devastating if her son receives the death penalty.

Christensen did not testify.

The federal jury that found him guilty last month now must decide his punishment.

Rebuttal witnesses will be called Tuesday. Closing arguments are scheduled for Wednesday.

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