A federal judge has denied a request to delay the trial for Brendt Christensen, who is charged in the kidnapping and death of Yingying Zhang, 26, a visiting scholar from China at the University of Illinois.
Judge Colin Bruce in Urbana, Illinois, on Wednesday ordered Christensen's trial to start in February, as scheduled.
Zhang disappeared on June 9, and her body has not been found.
Christensen's public defenders filed a motion last month to delay the trial to October 2018 to prepare their defense.
The judge also ordered the US Justice Department to notify the court and Christensen by Feb 1 if prosecutors plan to seek the death penalty.
Christensen was initially charged with kidnapping and pleaded not guilty to that charge in July. A grand jury returned a new indictment on Oct 3 that charged him with kidnapping resulting in death, and of lying to federal agents. He pleaded not guilty in federal court.