Combined file photo shows Chinese scholar Zhang Yingying (R) and suspect Brendt Christensen.
(ECNS) -- A U.S. judge has approved a request to delay the trial of Brendt Christensen, who is charged with abducting missing Chinese scholar Zhang Yingying, to Feb. 27 next year.
Christensen, a onetime doctoral candidate in physics at the University of Illinois, was set to face trial on Sept. 12, according to schedule. But at a pretrial hearing on Monday, U.S. District Court Judge Colin S. Bruce agreed to the trial date extension, demanded by Christensen's lawyer.
Christensen appeared at the federal courthouse hearing in Urbana, his fourth court appearance since being jailed on June 30.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Bryan Freres said Christensen might face another indictment. The next preliminary hearing would be held on Feb. 12.
Wang Zhidong, a lawyer for the family of the victim who went missing on June 9, said it was not surprising the trial had been delayed, due to the huge effort required to present evidence.
Wang also said prosecutors might seek the death penalty if they brought a new indictment, which might require more time for approval by the U.S. Attorney General.