CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) – A suspect in the 2017 kidnapping and slaying of a University of Illinois scholar from China wants to know if President Donald Trump spoke to Chinese officials about the case when he visited China in November.
The (Champaign) News-Gazette reports that prosecutors revealed in a federal-court filing Friday that Brendt Christensen’s lawyers have made that request.
Prosecutors say the defense contends such discussions between Trump and Chinese officials could have influenced the Justice Department’s January decision to seek the death penalty for Christensen.
Prosecutors call that contention a “far-flung theory” and add the defense isn’t entitled to government communications.
Yingying Zhang’s disappearance drew heavy coverage by China’s media. Prosecutors said the death penalty is justified because Christensen allegedly tortured the 26-year-old before killing her.
His trial is set for April.