Attorney of Missouri man on trial for wife’s 2019 death says it was ‘tragic accident’

Missouri Joseph Elledge murder trial

The defense attorney of Joseph Elledge, the Missouri man who allegedly killed his Chinese wife in 2019, described her death as a “tragic accident” during the first-degree murder trial that began on Tuesday.

A “tragic accident”: During the trial, lawyer Scott Rosenblum said his client argued with his 28-year-old wife Mengqi Ji on Oct. 9, 2019, believing that she was involved in an affair, according to The Associated Press.

  • The argument then turned physical when Ji allegedly pushed her husband and the latter pushed her back. Ji hit her head, but the defense attorney claimed she managed to stand up and go to sleep following the altercation.
  • Ji died the following day from a subdural hematoma, a collection of blood on the surface of the brain, Rosenblum said
  • He also claimed that his client had “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.”
  • The court swore in 12 jurors and three alternates for the trial on Monday. The murder trial case is being presided by Judge J. Hasbrouck Jacobs, and it will likely last for two to three weeks, KOMU reported.
  • Elledge allegedly had recorded a journal titled “Grievances” where he wrote details about why he hated his wife, Boone County Prosecutor Dan Knight claimed in his opening statement. He also added that the Missouri man allegedly had a notebook that gave instructions on how to act in front of the media after his wife’s disappearance.
  • Knight also claimed Elledge dug a grave where Ji’s body was eventually found in Rock Bridge State Park. The spot was half a mile away from where he asked her to marry him.

Audio recordings: Officials played several recordings which involved Elledge and Ji during some of their arguments. Two of the recordings were played at the trial and involved the victim’s mother, Ke Ren, according to KRCG.

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  • One recording was made when Ke Ren visited their house after Ji gave birth to their daughter. In another recording, Elledge was reportedly furious after his wife’s mother used his cutting board.
  • “Do you want me to leave? I’ll leave and never come back. I’m not happy here. Do you want me [to] leave here? Tell me,” Elledge says in another recording after he chastises Ji for “eating like a pig.” In response, Ji says, “No.”

Other details: Ji was reported missing on Oct. 10, 2019, and her body was found in a remote area of Rock Bridge State Park on March 25, 2021, The Associated Press reported.

  • Originally from China, Ji earned her degree from the University of Missouri – the same university Elledge attended – in December 2014. She met Elledge in the city of Columbia, and the two were married in 2017.
  • Authorities suspected foul play during the early days of her disappearance.

Featured Image via Boone County Sheriff’s Department (left), Columbia Police Department (right)

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