2 years after Yingying Zhang disappeared, Brendt Christensen goes to trial: Part 9

Terra Bullis, who was dating Christensen when he admitted to killing Zhang, testified against him. The jury heard the gruesome details in a secret audio recording she made of him.
5:55 | 11/16/19

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Transcript for 2 years after Yingying Zhang disappeared, Brendt Christensen goes to trial: Part 9
In late may, yingying's family and loved ones came to the U.S. To attend the trial. How have you been doing in the United States now? In their dreams, they want their daughter, or they want the remains. It may be that this trial brings closure. Brendt Christensen is on trial for his life in federal court. June 12th, 2019, opening statements at the Peoria federal courthouse. It's two years and three days since yingying disappeared, and brendt Christensen is on trial for his life. The government is seeking the federal death penalty in a state where capital punishment has been abolished. This is a federal capital case, and that's extremely rare to begin with. The death penalty at a state level was abolished years earlier, but prosecutors wanted to put Christensen on death row. It's a cavernous courtroom. Brendt Christensen is sitting at the defense table facing the jury. Yingying's family is sitting in the front left side of the gallery in Christensen's field of vision. They were very solemn and stoic. And yes, they could look at them, but he, I don't think, would ever try and make eye contact with them. During the opening statement, the simple phrase that I repeated several times was, "He kidnapped her. He murdered her. He covered up his crime." The prosecution's star witness, Christensen's girlfriend terra Bullis, arrives flanked by FBI agents. He didn't want to look at her at all. There was an opportunity when she would sail right past him, and he would still keep his eyes down. She testifies to the relationship that they had. The prosecution takes her through the relationship, through her decision to wear a wire for the FBI. Terra Bullis, she's a hero in the case. I believe that she did an incredible job testifying. I mean, you can imagine how hard that was for her. During cross-examination as the defense asked her numerous questions, and attacked her. They said when he started dating terra, that's when he linked sex and violence in his mind. And maybe that's what propelled him to go farther down this path. Maybe she was the catalyst that made him think about these things. Any claim that terra Bullis led him to do this is preposterous. The evidence shows that he was already making these plans long before he met terra Bullis. Her testimony was crucial, but it was what she did, recording conversations surreptitiously of Christensen, that became the cornerstone of the case. I want to talk about it. It's -- Is it hard to hold in? I've wanted to talk about this with someone so much. The jury is hearing the details, they're wearing headphones. There's a transcript playing in the courtroom of the recording. I'm sitting behind yingying's father and brother, who are listening on headphones to a translation of the recording. I tried to choke her to death. I couldn't believe it, like, she just didn't die. It was unbelievable, like, supernatural almost, how she just didn't give up. I couldn't believe it that she was still alive, so I carried her into my bathtub. I got the bat and I hit her on the head as hard as I could, and it broke her head open. It's chilling that a human being, first of all, could do what he said he did to another human being. But even more chilling, that he could describe what he did with such pleasure. He ultimately says to terra on that recording that he decapitated yingying. So I chopped her head off, and I said that was the end of she was done. Yingying's father and brother, I kind of wished they would just take off their headphones, but they didn't. They absorbed every single word, and it was just heartbreaking to witness. But what was on that tape just got even more horrific. The recorded evidence that Christensen may not have killed just one person, but many people. I'm on victim 13, counting yingying. Number 13. We're thinking he just admitted to being a serial killer.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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