A judge will allow recordings of arguments between Joseph Elledge and his wife, Mengqi Ji, in the upcoming trial about Ji's 2019 death.
On Tuesday, Judge Brouck Jacobs ruled the recordings are "relevant and otherwise admissible," overruling Elledge lawyer's objection to their inclusion.
Elledge is accused of murdering Ji, who was reported missing Oct. 10, 2019. Her her body was found March 25 in Rock Bridge Memorial State Park.
In May, Judge Jacobs heard arguments about 12 recordings; Ji secretly recorded two of them, Elledge recorded the other 10. Transcriptions of the recordings describe Elledge severely threatening Ji and gaslighting her to gain control over and manipulate her.
During that hearing, Scott Rosenblum, Elledge’s defense attorney, strongly encouraged Jacobs to listen to the unredacted version of the audio recordings before making his decision.
The recordings last a total of 13 hours, but Boone County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Knight has cut them down to the nine hours he wanted admitted into evidence.
Knight argued that the recordings are “key evidence,” necessary to show motive for murder, context and consciousness of guilt.
An earlier Missourian report about the 66-page trial brief reported that Knight used partial transcripts of the recordings demonstrate Elledge repeatedly threatening Ji and “gaslighting” her.
“Gaslighting is a form of persistent manipulation and brainwashing that causes the victim to doubt (herself), and to ultimately lose (her) sense of perception, identity and self-worth,” Knight wrote in the brief, citing a 2017 article in Psychology Today.
“Ultimately, the recordings prove that the defendant killed Mengqi because he hated her,” Knight wrote. “The recordings also prove that the defendant deliberated before he killed Mengqi.”
Elledge was charged Feb. 28, 2020, with Ji's murder and is scheduled for a three-week jury trial Nov. 1.