PEORIA — In a statement to the media after Brendt Christensen was sentenced to life in prison for kidnapping and killing visiting University of Illinois scholar Yingying Zhang, her father, Ronggao Zhang, asked him one more time to reveal the location of his daughter's body.
"Now that the trial is over and the jury has made its decision, we ask the defendant to unconditionally tell us what he knows about Yingying's location," he said, according to a translation. "If you have any humanity left in your soul, please help end our torment. Please let us bring Yingying home."
As he spoke, his wife, Lifeng Ye, cried and struggle to stand.
At Thursday's sentencing, Judge Jim Shadid directly addressed Brendt Christensen, blasting him for never once saying “I’m sorry.”
Ronggao Zhang said "while we do not agree with" the jury's decision, "we accept that he will spend the rest of his life in prison, which still reflects our loss in a meaningful way. We hope that every day he spends in prison he feels the pain and suffering that we feel for the loss of Yingying."
And Ms. Zhang's boyfriend, Xiaolin Hou, said he did not understand how the jury could not sentence Christensen to death for killing Ms. Zhang.
"For my own personal opinion, the result seemed to encourage people to do crimes," he said.