Joseph Elledge, the Missouri man convicted last November for murdering his Chinese wife, has pleaded guilty to three additional charges, including child abuse.
Elledge, 26, pleaded guilty to child endangerment, child abuse and domestic assault on Tuesday, adding 10 years to the 28-year prison sentence he received for murdering Mengqi Ji, 28, according to the Associated Press.
He will serve an additional 10 years after completing his first sentence, and the two years he has already served will reportedly be credited.
The Missouri man was charged with child abuse in October 2019 after reporting his missing wife. He allegedly pinched their infant daughter and left bruises on her body in February 2019, months before murdering Ji, Columbia Daily Tribune reported. He was arrested on Oct. 25, 2019, on assault-related charges and initially pleaded not guilty.
Investigators reportedly found pictures and videos of the infant’s bruises on the phone of Ji’s mother, Ke Ren.
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The state is reportedly not allowed to charge Elledge with any other felonies related to his wife’s murder, such as “abandonment of a corpse and tampering with evidence,” as part of the plea agreement between Boone County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Knight and one of the man’s attorneys, John O’Connor.
Additionally, prosecutors will not be allowed to add more charges to Elledge’s case if his January 2022 appeal for his murder conviction gets approved.
“We had a strong case on these three counts, but the issue was what sentence would be recommended by the jury,” Knight said. He added that Elledge “has accepted responsibility, and this also is a very significant sentence for these three charges.”
Elledge reportedly got into an argument with Ji on the night of Oct. 9, 2019, believing she was having an affair. The verbal argument later got physical when Ji allegedly pushed her husband and the latter pushed back, resulting in her falling and hitting her head, as NextShark previously reported. He allegedly considered divorcing Ji after the couple experienced marital issues, including financial struggles. Although he thought of filing for a divorce – even going so far as to search about it online – he stayed with Ji.
During the trial last November, Scott Rosenblum, another lawyer of Elledge, said his client made “a series of bad decisions when he decided not to call for help, instead putting his wife’s body in the trunk of his car.”
Ji’s remains were found in March 2021 by a passerby in a remote area of Rock Bridge State Park in Boone County, Kentucky, Associated Press reported.