Former FBI agent faints while testifying at Christensen hearing

Former FBI agent faints while testifying at Christensen hearing

URBANA — A former FBI agent fainted while testifying Friday in a hearing about a photo lineup used in the case of alleged kidnapper and killer Brendt Christensen.

The court recessed until 1:30 p.m. while he received assistance.

Martin Jerge, who now works for a private company, was describing how he administered the lineup to a woman who said she was approached by a man driving a black sedan who asked her to get into his car on June 9, 2017, the same day visiting University of Illinois scholar Yingying Zhang was last seen entering Christensen's car.

Christensen told the FBI he let Ms. Zhang out a few blocks away. He was arrested June 30, 2017, and faces trial in April.

Jerge, who appeared nervous throughout the questioning, was being cross-examined by defense attorney George Taseff about what the woman said and did during the lineup at the FBI field office in Champaign.

After about 45 minutes of intense questioning and being asked how exactly the woman selected Christensen's photo, Jerge leaned forward and hit his head on the witness stand.

After he came to, he was responsive but looked very pale.

U.S. Marshals, Judge James Shadid and court clerks immediately came to his side to provide water, a towel and other assistance.

Other FBI agents, who had been testifying all morning, jumped up when Jerge fainted, and Shadid called the lawyers together before going into recess.

After the break, Shadid said paramedics came to the court, and Jerge went with agents to be checked out. At the end of the hearing, the U.S. attorneys said they hadn't heard an update on his status.

Christensen's attorneys are trying to exclude the lineup testimony and evidence from trial, arguing that procedures weren’t properly followed, and on Friday morning, FBI agents testified about how they went about administering the photo lineup.

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