PEORIA, Ill. (AP) — A Wisconsin physics professor contends a former University of Illinois doctoral student convicted in the death of a Chinese scholar was a good student before the crime.

Matthew Herndon of University of Wisconsin-Madison physics testified Thursday he taught Brendt Christensen and went on to employ him and wrote a letter of recommendation to get Christensen into Illinois' physics program.

Herndon testified Thursday before the federal jury that convicted Christensen of kidnapping and killing 26-year-old Yingying Zhang in 2017. Jurors are to decide whether Christensen should be sentenced to death.

Under questioning by federal prosecutors, Herndon admitted he knew nothing about decisions Christensen made after he left the University of Wisconsin.

Christensen's defense team said they hope to finish Monday or Tuesday, with Christensen's ex-wife, mother and sister still set to testify.

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