UPDATE, 7:35 p.m.:
PEORIA — Closing arguments in the trial of Brendt Christensen are expected to take place Monday morning, as the prosecution was set to wrap up its case Friday morning, followed by the defense's case, which will include testimony from his ex-wife.
On Thursday afternoon, Christensen's lawyers continued cross-examination of his ex-girlfriend, Terra Bullis, during her second day on the stand.
She said the FBI didn't tell her specific questions to ask Christensen, including one about whether Ms. Zhang spoke broken English.
Defense attorney Robert Tucker tried to argue that Bullis provoked Christensen when she sent him a text at 3 a.m. June 9, 2017 — the day visiting University of Illinois scholar Yingying Zhang was last seen — about having casual sex with someone.
Bullis replied that she simply wanted to let him know, as per her polyamorous ethics. Christensen texted her back that day with "no worries" and what was described as a "kissy-face emoji with a heart."
The court also heard a phone call from Christensen to his wife from jail on July 4, five days after he was arrested, asking her to delete his Reddit account.
According to FBI agent Andrew Huckstadt, his wife apparently deleted a comment on a post about Ms. Zhang that said "Man that's very Ted Bundy-esque ... scary."
Jurors also heard another call from Christensen to his wife on July 2 asking about Bullis and telling her to tell Bullis to not say anything except to his lawyers. He told his wife that Bullis wouldn't answer his calls.
"Please text or call her to not say anything to anyone but our lawyers," he told his wife, believing that Bullis was still on his side. "Reiterate what happened" and "I'm innocent."
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UPDATE, 4 p.m.:
PEORIA — Cross-examination of Brendt Christensen's former girlfriend, Terra Bullis, by defense attorney Robert Tucker was moving slowly.
Tucker was asking about how they met on online dating site OKCupid, and she said she introduced Christensen to kink, BDSM, flogging and Fetlife.
Bullis said Christensen's support "was substantial" when she talked about problems in her life.
Asked whether she did everything she could during recordings to implicate Christensen, Bullis said "No." She described feeling conflicted and confused during recordings.
She said some comments were to continue conversation, while others were genuine questions.
"I didn't want to be having any of those conversations," she said.
Bullis said she drank with Christensen at the vigil because she was concerned about repercussions if she didn't listen to him.
She continued to say she didn't think he was drunk at vigil, despite telling Christensen's wife that he was. She said it's a scale, not a duality.
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UPDATE, 1 p.m.:
PEORIA — When asked how she felt after Brendt Christensen confessed to her, his ex-girlfriend, Terra Bullis, said, "Devastated."
About testifying: "Terrified."
So why do it? "Because it's necessary," she said.
Tapes the Bullis made of her and Christensen at the campus vigil for visiting University of Illinois scholar Yingying Zhang were played again in court as Christensen continued to avoid eye contact with Bullis.
Bullis said she took a bus to the vigil but stopped at the FBI's office first and took a different bus to avoid ending up on the same bus as Christensen when he wouldn’t expect it.
She texted him to ask why he wanted to go to the vigil. He replied "I want to go because ... idk" — short for "I don't know."
When she met him at the top of the stairs at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, she wasn’t recording immediately because she was concerned about battery life.
Christensen showed her a collar he wanted her to wear. She said it wouldn't be appropriate because they were in public and at a somber event. He didn't make her wear it.
"He seemed to be smiling a lot and happy," Bullis said about Christensen.
He also had a water bottle with alcohol in it. He told her, "they're here for me," and she realized she should be recording, so she went inside to begin the process.
He said, "By the end of the night, you'll be even more mine," which Bullis said Thursday didn't make sense.
Someone was handing out pamphlets at the vigil, which Christensen called "souvenirs." He said he wanted to go to the concert, because "that's also for me." Then he wrote the number 13 on her hand with his fingertips, Bullis said.
She turned off the recording device during the concert and went to the bathroom, sent two emails to the FBI and deleted them. When she returned, Christensen took her phone and looked through it. He then opened the "Notes" app, wrote four lines and deleted them. According to Bullis, who choked up as she read these, Christensen wrote "It was me. She was #13. She is gone. Forever."
During the concert, he continued drinking, she said.
"It was incredibly disrespectful for the missing person and all the people there," she said.
She also said she was afraid of getting caught.
At the end of the event, she said he clapped in a "way not like anything I had seen," adding that they were long staccato claps, instead of normal quick claps. She said Christensen did not join others in a standing ovation at the end.
She said he pointed at a person in front of them and "explained that she would be a good target" and that they'd follow her after the concert.
They didn't follow her. Instead, she went into the bathroom and contacted the FBI and one of her housemates to tell him to not let Christensen in their house: "I was afraid of him."
She initally forgot to turn her microphone back on as they walked home, but later did when she pretended to go in a Subway bathroom.
She said Christensen at one point told her to eat a piece of bread whole, so she gagged a bit, which could be heard on the recording. Her heartbeat could also be heard at times.
He then told her how he killed Ms. Zhang. He was speaking more loudly, more quickly, with widened eyes, Bullis said. He "just seemed very excited." When he told her that Ms. Zhang would be his legacy, Bullis said he laughed a little bit.
While telling her more about how he killed Ms. Zhang, Bullis said "he was excited" in his demeanor.
"I've wanted to talk about this with someone so much," he told her.
They stopped at Potbelly Sandwich Shop on Green Street, but it was closed, and he continued talking about how he killed Ms. Zhang.
When comparing himself to serial killer Ted Bundy, Bullis said "he was standing very tall when he was walking, and seemed like he was rather proud or boastful."
Bullis asked if she should be scared of Christensen. He said, "you're safe." But she should worry if she snitched, right? "That's true," he responded.
"He just verbally told me that because of what I was doing, I was not safe," Bullis said Thursday.
When Christensen was telling her that no one would ever find Ms. Zhang, Bullis described his demeanor as "matter of fact" and "clinical," adding "I was scared."
After photos and video of her at the walk were published, she said she had to get a new job and mental-health treatment and received between $7,000 and $8,000 from the FBI.
Defense attorneys will begin their cross-examination after lunch.
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Original story, published 10:30 a.m.:
PEORIA — On Thursday morning, the jury in the Brendt Christensen trial heard more clips recorded by his former girlfriend, Terra Bullis, as Christensen gradually revealed more to her.
Two days before the June 30, 2017, campus vigil for missing University of Illinois scholar Yingying Zhang, Christensen told Bullis he drove by Bullis' apartment June 9. Bullis asked why he didn’t text her, as she wasn’t busy. Christensen claimed she was.
At one point on the recording, he said, "Nothing you can tell them is actually going to help me, you or Michelle," referring to his wife. He said that's what his lawyers told him, and he thinks his wife is on board.
— Christensen said he didn't recognize a picture of Ms. Zhang because "I don't know Chinese people." He said he was trying to help her, so "the moral of the story is to not help people." He said he's the scapegoat of the investigation.
— Christensen talked about notorious serial killer Ted Bundy getting love letters in prison. Bullis asked if he still had fantasies about serial kilers. "Maybe," he responded.
— He talked about how it's easier for serial killers to get away with their crimes if their victims are prostitutes, and that he's partly fascinated by Bundy because he killed college-aged women.
— Christensen said he wished he could talk more freely, but still felt paranoid: "Even if I did do it," he said, he wouldn't tell anyone.
— Bullis said she wanted to know everything, but Christensen said she could then be considered an accomplice and face jail time.
— Bullis said she'd be loyal, but Christensen said, "people aren't rational when confronted with a decision like that. I care about you too much to ever try to put you in that situation."
The recording Bullis made during the campus vigil is expected to played for the court later this morning.