Brent Christianson, Tim Ditman Tim, Bana discussed on John Williams
Give you a price if you get it, right. It's not a really big prize. But who doesn't like pizza? The bright side of life comes your way in a half an hour. We've also got our fun things to do segment. In the meantime, Tim ditman joins us now. He's a reporter at the news gazette the paper and our Bana and he has been covering a story that you've been seeing on the front page of the Tribune. We've been talking about it a little bit. WGN radio, though. It's doesn't feel as much like a local story here as it is, maybe a big story downstate and really a story of national significance. And that is the story of that Chinese scholar, the student at the university of Illinois yingying Zhang, who was inner Bana, and she was studying she was going to catch a bus. She didn't catch the bus. She was taking public transportation or English was pretty good, but she missed the connection as the bus was going away. She's running after the bus, and then a car, pulls up and says, hey, did you miss ride, and she says, yes, I did guy says I'll give you a ride and that was the last anybody ever saw her. We now know that her death was a ghastly thing. And the man charged with the crime is on trial and the defense tactic taking his interesting following this story is Tim. Ditman. Tim, thanks for joining us on WGN radio. How are you? I'm doing well. It's been a very busy week down here, very heart wrenching, as well as these details, come out at trial. That's a fair description though. Is it not of what happened? I mean, how she was abducted if you will. And what led to her death? Yeah. We expected a lot of new information to come out over these next few weeks in the trial is expected to last into July. But I don't think anyone intimidated, all of the bombshell information to come out on the first day as you alluded to the prosecution in their opening statement, laid out their version of events and I won't get into great detail on the air because as you mentioned, they are very gruesome, but safe to say Mr. christianson up -ducted, did some terrible things to miss Zhong in his apartment and then ended her life. Now when those comments were made, I was watching from actually the Abana courthouse. So this trial is taking place. In Peoria, but there is a viewing room at the Abana courthouse for the local community who has an interest in the trial. I was watching from that ban courtroom and the air was taken out of that doing room, everyone was just shocked to hear those details. Now, we didn't even -ticipant what was going to come just a few minutes later, when the lead defense attorney, got up and said, Mr. christianson did commit this heinous crime. And he is the one responsible for yingying Zhang death. And over the next few weeks, we hope to present to you. The jury facts about this man's wife that you will give him life in prison instead of the death penalty. He didn't plead guilty. Though he did not. And that's something that a lot of people have asked me about, so what has happened is not a formal guilty plea. It's more of a defense coming out and saying here is what our trial strategy is going to be, which I'm not an attorney. I've only covered courts for about eight years. But this is something that I have. Not seen happen, very often if at all the fact that he is not pled guilty has led me to believe that there is not a formal plea offer on the table from prosecutors to remember, a plea. Deal is a two way street. Prosecutors have to agree to it. And then the judge has the ultimate, we sign off on it. It's kind of a moot point if well, I guess it's not we never know what's going to happen. But while Illinois has the death penalty we've suspended executions. Correct. That's correct Illinois as a state in state cases, does not do the death penalty anymore. But this is a federal case. And so the death penalty is still on the table. So he could be executed for this crime could be executed. It alternately came down to Jeff Sessions when he was in office as attorney general, he authorized the death penalty and assuming Mr. christianson is convicted of the main charge, which is kidnapping resulting in death. And again, a barring some sort of mistrial or something unexpected, we all expect that to happen, given the fact that. He has already admitted to doing it once that happens. The jury will deliberate, not the judge the jury will decide if he gets life in prison. Or the death penalty the jury has to be unanimous. If the jury is unanimous to say, yes, this man deserves to be put to death. He will be put to death. If even one juror says, no, I don't agree with that, then the sentence immediately becomes life in prison. But that's all after I guess. It's a formality, but first, they have to find him guilty of the crime. So you all are going through this trial knowing full, well, what the outcome's going to be the defense has. He's guilty. He did it. That's exactly right. And over the next few weeks. Prosecutors will try to bolster their argument for why the jury should sentence this man to death. And again, I have every indication just reading the tea leaves that prosecutors are not in a mode to take a last minute plea deal. I think they wanna see this case through and see the maximum. Punishment possible. And then on the defense side, they're going to try to present the exact opposite to, to say, why this man should not get the death penalty. And they've already kind of alluded to what they're going to talk about the fact that this man at one time was a star student. He was pursuing his doctoral degree at the university of Illinois physics. I believe. That's correct. Yes. And at some point he started failing his classes, he began drinking heavily he became estranged from his wife, his wife, actually got a new boyfriend he got depression, and he became obsessed with murder and serial killers. Ted Bundy in particular, and ultimately on June ninth 2017, Brian Christensen's wife left for a rendezvous in Wisconsin with her new boyfriend ironically to the same resort, where Brent christianson and his wife, Michelle, had their honeymoon and according to the defense that just set him off. He hit rock bottom, and he alternately committed this anus crime. So he hits rock. Bottom, and then what do you do? When you hit rock bottom, you troll or Bana in a car. He couldn't get a previous woman to get in the car. You finally find this young Chinese student who does get in the car naively thinking that nice man's going to give her a ride, and then you execute are in a terrible way. And, and, you know, it's, it's sort of to me, like I'm editor allies in now, you're telling the story, but I could see you hitting rock bottom in doing something rash. But he an advanced purchase two six foot long duffel bag for what purpose right? I mean it. Sure. Sounds premeditated to me Tim. Yeah, and prosecutors would probably agree with you. That this is something that had been on the man's mind for several times. In fact, he had gone to the university of Illinois counseling center and told counselors there that he had been thinking about killing someone for a while. He it even bought the supplies. Offer duffle bag that, that you mentioned. So yes, if you look at it in the most sinister light, this is a man who had had planned to do something like this for some time. And on June ninth 2017 some two years ago, he ultimately went over the ledge. And I, I understand that, that was a cry for help for him. I mean he did tell counselors, I thought about harming myself or other people, and then they suggested that he go to a mental health facility there. But, you know, the, the social service net that we have didn't catch this guy. And so we're left with this terrible crime. And this is something else that you alluded to a moment ago. At least I believe this is what you're talking about Tim that win at the trial. They told the jury the details of the crime, you can look it up if you want. But it's unconscionable what happened to this young woman. They did not know that it was going to be so specific and detailed, and that the family was there and was. Hearing some of this for the first time is, I guess, one of the things you were looting to that was startling. Wasn't it, it really was. And as far as we know there was not, some sort of, in jail house confession by Mr. christianson. He more or less has been tight lipped aside from his initial interviews. He did with beliefs in, in the days immediately following this incident. There are however, several recordings that Brent christianson girlfriend of mine. That's not his wife. He had an estranged wife and a girlfriend and the girlfriend made several surreptitious, recordings upbringing christianson, where he talked about the crime and one in particular. That's gotten a lot of publicity brand Christians and actually went on a memorial walk for being Jong and wall. They're made comments to the effect of they're never going to find her. I'm very good at this, this referring to committing a murder. So, yeah. Yes, it's, it's all very startling. And back to your point about the family. They have a local attorney here who is kind of guiding them. He's inner Bana based attorney who's been traveling with them to and from p Oreo where the trial is taking place, it kinda helped them navigate the legal system because this is all new for them. They're natives of China. And in speaking without attorney Steve, Beckett is his name. He says the family is doing about his what was they can the mother in particular not this week, but it previous court hearings has broken down crying a couple of times, as you can imagine. It's very traumatic for her. Is that young lady's name the victim? I'm out of time you're doing good reporting down there, Tim, let's wrap it up here. But maybe you could join us again next week. How long do you expect this thing's going to go? We expect the prosecution to present their case through the end of next week. Then the defense will go that will probably take about a week or so. And then it'll be the jury deliberating. And again, you don't want to put the cart before the horse, but we expect it to, to be guilty. Verdict given that he has already admitted to the crime. They'll probably take a break for the fourth of July holiday. And then it'll be maybe a couple more weeks for the sentencing phase, where again, each side will present their evidence to say the prosecutors, here's why you should do the death penalty. That defense say no. Here's why you should give this man life in prison. So we're looking at extending into July, I frequently say, if you don't already today would be a good day to subscribe to a newspaper. The news gazette inner Bana reported there, Tim ditman Tim. We'll be in touch, thanks so much for your time today. Thank. For having me, appreciate you. Joining us something good going on in the area. There's something called sleep in heavenly peace. Are you familiar with this organization? We talked to the people who are so inspired by what they do here in the Chicago area. We said come on what you're having another event. Will they got another event coming up? So let me tell you about that. Oh, the answer to the trivia question. His finally poured in the eighteen nineties one in three.