Lawyers for Brendt Christensen, the 27-year-old man accused of kidnapping Yingying Zhang, are asking a judge’s permission to withdraw from the case.
Attorneys Thomas, Evan and Anthony Bruno have been representing Christensen, who’s accused of kidnapping University of Illinois visiting scholar Yingying Zhang.
But in a motion filed Friday, they noted that prosecutors suggested in court last week that they’ll ask a grand jury to hand down additional charges which could raise the possibility of the death penalty. That’s the sentence Christensen could receive if convicted of a kidnapping resulting in the victim’s death.
The Brunos say that Christensen and his family simply can’t afford their services to fight any additional charges. They say Christensen agrees with them that he should continue the case with a court-appointed attorney taking their place. A federal court hearing on the request is set for Friday morning in Urbana.
Yingying Zhang, 26, has been missing since June 9, and FBI investigators have said they believe she is dead.