An American man pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to the charge of kidnapping a University of Illinois scholar from China.

This is the first time for Brendt Christensen to appear in court after a federal grand jury returned a superseding indictment on Oct. 3 against the 28-year-old man accused in the kidnapping resulting in the death of Zhang Yingying.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Eric Long read the main part of the superseding indictment, and Christensen replied that he fully understood the three counts of charges, namely kidnapping resulting in death and two counts of making false statements to FBI agents.

When Christensen entered the courthouse, Zhang's mother could not hold her sadness but cried out, trying to grab the defendant while shouting "give me back my daughter." She was helped out of the court before the hearing began.

Pre-hearing will be held on Feb. 12, 2018, and the final ruling of the case will be on Feb. 27, 2018, Judge Long said.

If convicted of the charge, Christensen will face the death penalty or mandatory life in prison.