Stevens Point native gets life in death of Chinese student

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PEORIA, Ill. (AP) -- The Latest on the sentencing deliberations in scholar's slaying (all times local):
2:50 p.m.

A former University of Illinois doctoral student is facing life in prison in the abduction, rape and killing of a scholar from China after a federal jury failed to agree on a death sentence.

The jurors returned their decision on Thursday after deliberations in the sentencing of 30-year-old Brendt Christensen. Christensen is from Stevens Point. The life sentence is automatically applied if even one juror opposes execution.

The same jurors took less than 90 minutes to convict Christensen last month in the June 2017 killing of Yingying Zhang.

Prosecutors described how Christensen raped, choked and stabbed Zhang before beating her to death and decapitating her. Christensen has never revealed what he did with Zhang's remains.

The defense sought to humanize Christensen, including by showing video of him as a child.

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2:15 pm.

Jurors have reached a verdict on whether an ex-University of Illinois doctoral student should be put to death for slaying a 26-year-old scholar from China.

The verdict was to be announced Thursday afternoon in the penalty stage of the case against Brendt Christensen.

Jurors went home after three hours Wednesday without a decision on whether he should die or spend the rest of his life behind bars for abducting Yingying Zhang, raping her and beating her to death with a bat. They spent about five hours deliberating Thursday.

The same jurors took less than 90 minutes to convict Christensen at his trial last month.

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9 a.m.

Jurors have resumed deliberations on whether an ex-University of Illinois doctoral student should be put to death for slaying a 26-year-old scholar from China.

Thursday is the second day of deliberations in the penalty stage of the federal case against Brendt Christensen.

Jurors went home after three hours Wednesday without a decision on whether he should die or spend the rest of his life behind bars for abducting Yingying Zhang, raping her and beating her to death with a bat.

The same jurors took less than 90 minutes to convict Christensen at his trial last month.

Their task in the penalty stage is harder. They must answer questions such as whether Christensen displayed unique cruelty in killing Zhang and whether he exhibited redeeming qualities in his life.