Prosecutor: Trial in Chinese woman's death could last weeks

Associated Press
Mengqi Ji

COLUMBIA — A Missouri prosecutor estimates that the trial of a Missouri man who is charged in the presumed death of his missing Chinese wife will take two to three weeks. 

Boone County prosecuting attorney Dan Knight said no trial date was set during a hearing Friday for Joseph Elledge. That is expected to happen at an Aug. 3 hearing.

Elledge is charged with first-degree murder in the death of 28-year-old Mengqi Ji, of Columbia, although her body has not been found. She has not been seen since early October.

Knight estimates that the trial will take several weeks because several witnesses speak Chinese and translators will be needed. Because there is no body, witnesses also will have to be called to make the case that she was killed. 

Elledge has pleaded no guilty in his wife's death, as well as to domestic assault and child abuse charges related to the couple's young daughter. 

Prosecutors allege Elledge strangled or suffocated his wife because he wanted to avoid a costly divorce and to prevent her from fleeing to China with their daughter. Law enforcement officials have repeatedly searched river, where police believe her body was dumped.

Elledge and Ji married in 2017 and attended the University of Missouri.