Yingying Zhang

This undated file photo provided by the University of Illinois Police Department shows Yingying Zhang. Zhang, is a Chinese scholar who was abducted while studying at the University of Illinois on June 9. Brendt Christensen has been charged with her death in federal court.

AP FILE PHOTO

URBANA — A federal judge must decide in coming days whether to grant a defense motion to delay the trial of a 28-year-old man accused of killing a University of Illinois scholar from China.

The federal judge in Urbana gave Brendt Christensen's lawyers until Tuesday to respond to prosecutors, who said last week they currently oppose pushing the trial from Feb. 27 to October. They said they'd agree to some delay only if the U.S. Department of Justice chooses to seek the death penalty.

Christensen is charged in the June kidnapping and death of 26-year-old Yingying Zhang. Her body hasn't been found. Prosecutors say they could know by Feb. 1 whether the Justice Department will seek the death penalty.

The defense wants a delay no matter what, citing the case's complexity.

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