Attorneys in Chinese scholar kidnapping case ask to withdraw

Three attorneys have asked to withdraw from defending a man charged with kidnapping a University of Illinois scholar from China who is missing and presumed dead.

The (Champaign) News-Gazette reports that Tom Bruno and his sons, Anthony and Evan Bruno, say in a federal court filing that 27-year-old Brendt Christensen can't afford to pay them for what could become a death penalty case if there are additional charges, and that they and Christensen have agreed that he should have a court-appointed defense lawyer.

A hearing on the motion is scheduled for Friday. Christensen is being held in the Macon County jail in Decatur. His trial is set for February.

Yingying Zhang disappeared June 9, weeks after arriving at the central Illinois campus. Investigators believe the 26-year-old is dead, but her body hasn't been found.

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Information from: The News-Gazette, http://www.news-gazette.com