Accused kidnapper's attorney says he'll plead not guilty today

Accused kidnapper's attorney says he'll plead not guilty today

The search for Yingying Zhang: Day 40

No bail, still held in Macon County Jail

For the third time in three weeks — and the first since a federal grand jury indicted him on kidnapping charges — Brendt Christensen will be transported from the Macon County Jail, where he's been held without bail, to the federal courthouse in Urbana for a 3 p.m. appearance today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Eric Long.

Younger Bruno to appear

The former UI graduate student will enter a plea of not guilty, attorney Tom Bruno said Wednesday. Bruno's son, Anthony, will appear in court today with his client, though all three Brunos — Tom and sons Evan and Anthony — are jointly working on the case out of their Urbana-based law firm.

Trial date could be set soon

Expect today's appearance to be brief, said Sharon Paul with the U.S. Attorney's Office: "The purpose is for the judge to formally advise the defendant that a grand jury has returned an indictment that charges him, and for the defendant to enter a not guilty plea so that a trial date can be scheduled."

Defense awaits discovery

The Speedy Trial Act requires that a trial must commence within 70 days, but either side may file motions requesting a continuance. Before that happens, Christensen's attorneys in the next few weeks expect to begin receiving discovery from the U.S. attorney's office and reviewing it with their client, Bruno said.

Search ongoing for Ms. Zhang

Law-enforcement officials remain mum on the search for missing Chinese scholar Yingying Zhang, whom the FBI says is presumed dead. Her boyfriend, Xiaolin Hou, said last week that family members who made the trip here from China "will not leave the United States without her."