Jury Recommends 28 Years for Missouri Man in Wife’s Murder

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COLUMBIA, Mo.—A pistillate who moved to Missouri from China to further her acquisition earlier she was killed by her hubby should beryllium remembered arsenic a benignant pistillate whose decease was a “huge waste,” a authoritative said Friday aft her hubby was convicted.

A assemblage recommended aboriginal Friday that Joseph Elledge beryllium sentenced to up to 28 years successful situation for sidesplitting Mengqi Ji, 28. The condemnation came hours aft the Boone County assemblage convicted Elledge of second-degree murder.

Sentencing was scheduled for Dec. 17. Circuit Judge J. Hasbrouck Jacobs cannot condemnation him to much years than the assemblage recommendation.

After the sentencing signifier concluded, Boone County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Knight said his probe into the lawsuit led him to recognize that Ji was “kind, giving, and selfless,” dissimilar her husband.

“It’s specified a immense waste, that a beingness similar Mengqi would beryllium snuffed retired by specified a selfish psychopath similar the defendant,” Knight said.

Knight had urged the assemblage to find Elledge blameworthy of first-degree murder, which carries a mandatory beingness sentence, but helium said helium was satisfied with the second-degree verdict. A second-degree execution condemnation requires Elledge to service astatine slightest 85 percent of his condemnation earlier being eligible for parole.

Missing_Woman_Missouri_21316170660483 Joseph Elledge sits anterior to the speechmaking of the verdict successful his proceedings successful Columbia, Miss., connected Nov. 11, 2021. (Alessia Tagliabue/Pool/Missourian via AP)

Elledge’s attorney, Scott Rosenblum, said Elledge and his household were alert during the proceedings that helium was not going to beryllium acquitted but had hoped the assemblage would convict him of manslaughter, KOMU-TV and KMIZ-TV reported.

“He knew that astatine the extremity of the time I wasn’t going beryllium asking the assemblage to instrumentality a verdict of not guilty. He surely wanted to debar a condemnation of execution successful the archetypal degree,” said Rosenblum, who added Elledge was grateful helium volition beryllium eligible for parole.

Rosenblum said helium and the household volition conscionable successful the adjacent week to sermon whether to entreaty the verdict.

Elledge had admitted during the proceedings to burying his wife’s assemblage and misleading authorities for much than a twelvemonth astir Ji’s whereabouts. He reported her missing successful October 2019, prompting months of extended searches. Her remains were recovered successful a parkland adjacent Columbia, Missouri, successful March.

search-for-missing-woman Missouri instrumentality enforcement unit aided by the United States Geological Survey squad usage imaging sonar to effort to find the assemblage of Mengqi Ji Elledge adjacent Columbia, Miss., connected Dec. 4, 2019. (Don Shrubshell/Columbia Daily Tribune via AP)

An lawyer for Ji’s household told the Columbia Daily Tribune earlier the proceedings started that they didn’t program to supply a statement, but said connected Wednesday they were pleased with the prosecutor’s efforts.

During closing arguments connected Thursday, Knight told the assemblage that Elledge was a “stone acold killer” who was blameworthy of first-degree execution due to the fact that helium intentionally killed his wife.

Rosenblum argued that his lawsuit was awkward and made “unbelievably dumb” decisions aft she died. But helium said Elledge ne'er intended to termination his woman and should ne'er person been charged with murder.

During his trial, Elledge said Ji’s decease was accidental. He said she fell and deed her caput connected Oct. 8, 2019, aft helium pushed her during an statement and helium recovered her dormant successful furniture the adjacent morning. He said helium panicked, enactment her assemblage successful the trunk of her car and did not study what happened portion helium tried to determine what to do.

He did not archer anyone, including Ji’s mother, astir her disappearance.

On Oct. 10, with the couple’s young girl successful the car, Elledge drove to Rock Bridge State Park astir 5 miles southbound of Columbia, wherever they lived. There, helium dug a sedate and buried Ji astatine a tract a half-mile from wherever helium projected to her. He past returned location and reported her missing.

Prosecutors utilized societal media posts, audio tapes and a diary Elledge kept to papers the couple’s volatile relationship. The grounds showed them often yelling astatine each different and arguing, with Elledge often criticizing his woman for her quality and for however she treated him.

Elledge said that successful the days earlier her death, helium discovered Ji had been exchanging sexually suggestive messages with a antheral from China via societal media. He besides testified that the couple’s narration suffered due to the fact that of hostility caused by her parents who moved from China to unrecorded with them aft their girl was calved connected Oct. 3, 2018.

The mates met successful 2015 astatine Nanova, a institution that makes dental products, wherever Ji was Elledge’s supervisor. They began dating the pursuing twelvemonth and yet traveled to China, wherever helium asked Ji’s parents for support to wed her. The mates joined successful 2017.

Ji earned a master’s grade successful mechanical and aerospace engineering from the University of Missouri successful December 2014. Elledge was a pupil astatine the assemblage erstwhile his woman died.

The Associated Press

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