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Elledge pleads guilty in child abuse case

COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)

A Columbia man convicted of murdering his wife has pleaded guilty to abusing their child.

Joseph Elledge pleaded guilty Tuesday to child abuse, child endangerment and domestic assault. He had pleaded not guilty to the charges in March 2020.

A judge sentenced Elledge to 28 years in prison in December after a jury convicted him of killing Mengqi Ji. Ji went missing in October 2019. A hiker found her body in Rock Bridge Memorial State Park last March after police spent months searching several locations, including in the Boonville area.

Elledge was sentenced to a total of 10 years on the three charges on top of the 28-year prison sentence for murder. He will be given credit for time served.

Prosecutor Dan Knight said he would not file charges against Elledge for abandoning corpse or tampering with evidence in Ji's death.

Few details have been released publicly related to the child abuse allegations, with Elledge being indicted by a grand jury. In the indictment, Joseph Elledge is accused "knowingly causing a child less than 18-year-old, to suffer physical injury as a result of abuse by grabbing or striking the child," between Jan. 1 and Feb. 12.

The guilty plea will allow Elledge to avoid further charges related to is wife's disappearance.

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Matthew Sanders

Matthew Sanders is the digital content director at ABC 17 News.

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