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UPDATE: 4:30 p.m.

Assistant Federal Defender Elisabeth Pollock called Christensen’s "lovemachine689" email account "whimsical" and said it was only used for his dating accounts, adding that 689 refers to his birth month (June 1989).

She also tried to cast doubt on how Christensen could shave after buying a bottle of rum at Schnucks at 7:50 a.m. June 9 and before he was first seen on campus at 8:20 a.m.

Pollock also noted that the canvas duffle bag was still in Christensen’s apartment June 12, according to his wife, three days after Ms. Zhang’s abduction. His wife apparently saw him carry the bag out without much difficulty.

Pollock also tried to establish that the FBI searched far and wide to try to verify Christensen’s claim that Ms. Zhang was his 13th victim, noting they found no prior criminal history, compared his DNA against databases and found nothing. Also nothing in his credit reports, texts, social media, etc.

Court resumes at 9 a.m. Friday.

UPDATE: 3:45 P.M.

The defense made a motion for a mistrial that was denied, arguing video of Christensen invoking rights would prejudice the jury.

FBI agent Anthony Manganaro testified that they obtained a tracker warrant for Christensen’s Camaro, which wasn’t fruitful. Manganaro also:

— Reached out to State Deptartment to get Ms. Zhang’s fingerprints from her J1 visa.

— Found footage of Christensen driving around campus in the morning and again in the afternoon beginning around 1:33 p.m. the day Ms. Zhang disappeared, but nothing after he went north with Ms. Zhang.

— Said Christensen talked about how he purchased a 6-foot duffle bag twice: Once in March and returned it; again June 3. Manganaro bought one for FBI and unrolled it in court to show how big it is.

— Said he went through Christensen’s google searches from June 8–30. Among the findings: a June 8 google about oxiclean. a June 12 google "how iPhone tracking works;" and googles for UIPD search update and News-Gazette article on $10k reward  on June 17.

UPDATE: 1 p.m.

During a June 15 interview with an FBI agent and UIPD officer, Christensen admitted he wasn’t just sitting at home playing video games when Ms. Zhang went missing.

"I’ve seen the video, but I didn’t see me," he tries to tell them.

When Officer Eric Stiverson said they knew he picked her up, Christensen became agitated and said he mixed up his days, but did drive around campus and picked up an Asian woman.

"She was very distressed," he said. "I don’t remember specifics" about where he let her out.

"She said she had a meeting with her professor," he said, when in fact she was looking for a new apartment.

Christensen his marriage was "kind of strained between us ... in an unrelated way." He admitted he was lonely with his wife on vacation with her new boyfriend.

"Just trying to clear my head, more or less," he said for why he was driving around.

Christensen said Ms. Zhang "was the only person I talked to," but prosecutors believe another woman was approached by him that morning.

Asked why he didn’t tell FBI agents earlier about picking up an Asian woman, Christensen said, "if I recognized her, I would’ve told the agents because I knew she was Asian."

Stiverson said they had records showing Ms. Zhang had googled the address of One North one minute after entering Christensen’s car.

The FBI agent said "where’d you take her? We need to find Yingying."

Christense said "I think it’s time that I stop answering questions."


PEORIA — On Day 2 of the death penalty trial of Brendt Christensen, law enforcement officers provided new details about the search for visiting Chinese scholar Yingying Zhang.

An FBI agent testified Thursday that the search for Ms. Zhang included the Murdock coal mine in Douglas County, the trash bins and Centennial Park and an isolated area north of Champaign.

None of those searches produced any signs of what happened to Ms. Zhang. She has been presumed dead by the FBI for nearly two years after going missing on June 9, 2017.

On Wednesday, one of Christensen's attorneys admitted in federal court the former University of Illinois physics graduate student did indeed kill Ms. Zhang.

Also revealed on Thursday:

— Surveillance footage taken at a Champaign Schnucks showed Christensen buying a bottle of rum around 7:45 a.m. on June 9. The footage showed he went straight for the bottom shelf.

The footage confirms what defense attorney George Taseff said Wednesday in court: His client, depressed after dropping out of the UI and his wife telling him she wanted to see other people, bought a cheap bottle of rum and a "perfect storm ... converged. "He does the unthinkable. ... He takes (Ms. Zhang) to his apartment and kills her."

— Three days later, on June 12, Christensen returned to Schnucks to buy Drano and kitchen garbage bags.

— Law enforcement officers put in 20-hour days searching for Ms. Zhang during the first three weeks of the investigation, one testified.

— An officer subpoenaed Ms. Zhang's Chase credit card records early on. They showed that she made no purchases after June 7, 2017.

— After hearing chilling details of how the prosecution believes Ms. Zhang died, her family is back in the courtroom Thursday, listening to a translation of testimony with earpieces.