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(CNN) —  

A federal jury has found Brendt Christensen guilty in the 2017 death of a Chinese student at the University of Illinois, the court clerk said.

Christensen had been charged with kidnapping resulting in the death of Yingying Zhang, 26.

The sentencing date is set for July 8, when the same jury will decide whether Christensen should receive the death penalty or life in prison, Sharon Paul, a spokeswoman for the US attorney’s office, said in an email to CNN.

The verdict came as no surprise, after Christensen’s attorney said in opening statements of the trial that his client killed Zhang.

Zhang went missing in June 2017, when she was on her way to sign an apartment lease. She was last seen getting into Christensen’s car at a bus stop, according to court documents.

The victim’s body has never been found.

“We have missed Yingying tremendously in the past two years,” Zhang’s family said in a brief statement.

“Our wish has always been to find Yingying and bring her home, we’ll not give up,” the family said.