COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
The Boone County Prosecutor's Office announced on Friday that a grand jury has indicted Joseph Elledge on a count of first-degree murder.
The release from prosecuting attorney Dan Knight said Elledge was indicted for the murder of his wife Mengqi Ji who went missing back in October.
The release also shows the grand jury indicted Elledge on charges of neglect of a child and endangering the welfare of a child in another case.
Knight filed a charge of first-degree murder against Elledge on Feb. 19. The documents allege Elledge may have strangled Ji the night she went missing.
Knight said it is not unusual for a case to go through a grand jury indictment after the prosecuting office files charges.
"Cases generally speaking will start out at an associate circuit court and there's one of two ways a felony case can make it from associate circuit court into circuit court," he said. "Either by taking a case to a preliminary hearing or going through the grand jury."
Knight said going through a grand jury helps process cases more quickly.
He said the grand jury serves the same function a judge would serve in a preliminary hearing.
"The judge in a preliminary hearing and the grand jury have to find that there's probable cause to believe that the defendant committed a particular crime," he said.
In a grand jury indictment, nine out of 12 grand jurors have to agree there is enough evidence to go forward with the case. Knight said the standard is probable cause.
A warrant has been ordered in the murder case. Elledge is currently being held in the Boone County Jail on a $500,000 bond.
An arraignment is scheduled for March 2 in both cases where Elledge will have the chance to enter a plea.
Elledge also faces charges of child abuse. That trial is set to begin April 6. The jury is being selected from Warren County.
A trial has not been set in the murder case.
Watch ABC 17 News at 5 for the latest information in the Elledge case.