At a status hearing for murder suspect Joseph Elledge on Friday, the state filed motions to endorse 40 witnesses for multiple charges against the defendant. 

Elledge, 24, is charged with first-degree murder as well as unrelated charges for child abuse, child endangerment and third-degree domestic assault. He's accused of killing his wife, Mengqi Ji, in October of 2019.

Over the course of the missing person investigation into his wife's disappearance, police found evidence of bruising on Elledge and Ji's daughter. The state also argued Elledge endangered the welfare of the child by separating her from her mother.

On Friday, the state asked that 23 witnesses in the murder case and 17 in the child abuse case be endorsed. 

Ji's body has not been found.

As previously reported by the Missourian, Columbia police recently resumed the search, continuing the excavation of a levee in the Lamine River, where investigators have said they have reason to believe Ji's body might be found. 

Boone County Chief Prosecutor Dan Knight said the trial could take up to a month, because of delays related to COVID-19 and translating witness testimony. Many of the witnesses called to testify speak Chinese. 

In another layer of complication for the case, processes for selecting and impaneling jurors have become protracted because of reduced occupancy limits in courtrooms and the need for safe social distance.

No trial date has been set. A bond hearing was scheduled for Nov. 30, and Knight said at that point the court may have a better idea when the trial will begin. 

  • Assistant city editor, grad student studying investigative reporting and photojournalism. You can reach me at cjmx5d@umsystem.edu or in the newsroom at 882-5700.

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