CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Attorneys for a man accused of abducting and killing a University of Illinois scholar from China are asking for more time to prepare his defense.

Former graduate student Brendt Christensen is charged in the alleged kidnapping and death in June of Yingying Zhang. He is scheduled to go on trial in February.

The News-Gazette in Champaign reports Christensen’s appointed public defenders on Tuesday asked that his trial be delayed so they can prepare a thorough defense. The attorneys noted the average time between indictment and trial in federal death penalty prosecutions is 28 months. The government put the defense on notice in September it was considering the death penalty. That was before Christensen was indicted on charges of kidnapping and making false statements to federal investigators.

Judge Colin Bruce gave prosecutors until Nov. 3 to respond to the defense request.

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