A 28-year-old accused in the abduction of a University of Illinois scholar from China has pleaded not guilty to a new, more serious charge of kidnapping resulting in death.
Brendt Christensen was already facing a kidnapping charge.
But a grand jury last week returned a superseding indictment that included allegations that Ying Ying Zhang’s death involved torture or serious physical abuse.
The 26-year-old Zhang was last seen June 9. She is presumed dead, though her body hasn’t been found.
The new charge carries a possible death penalty or mandatory life sentence.
The trial is scheduled for Feb. 27.