COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
A jury took until the early morning hours Friday to deliver a 28-year sentence recommendation, after convicting Joseph Elledge of second-degree murder on Thursday.
Both Boone County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Knight and Elledge's defense attorney, Scott Rosenblum, spoke following the conviction. Rosenblum stated Elledge and his family were disappointed in the outcome but were realistic as well and did not expect him to be acquitted.
“It’s an emotional case it’s a very emotional case for both sides. I certainly understand the verdict, always accept jury’s verdicts, don’t question them. I think they worked through a lot of evidence and reached the verdict they did and we understand it.” Rosenblum said. "We were certainly hopeful with the facts that came out that they would consider manslaughter," he added.
Knight also took time following the verdict to answer questions and said he's known since the beginning he'd have to devote all his time and effort into bringing Mengqi Ji justice.
“I knew from that very very beginning I was determined to do whatever it took to make sure the defendant paid for this, that he was held responsible, held accountable for his actions. I was convinced from the very beginning basically that he was guilty of this crime.” Knight said. “All kinds of emotions as you’re watching this because you think it’s just such a huge waste that a life like Mengqi would be snuffed out by such a selfish psychopath like the defendant.”
Knight said Elledge's actions, such as his behavior following Ji's disappearance, is what led him to be so confident in Elledge being the one who killed Ji.
Rosenblum added to that and said the worst facts about the case were what happened following Ji's disappearance.
Elledge is set to have his sentencing hearing, where a judge will ultimately determine his sentence, on Dec. 17. The judge may decide to give Elledge less than the recommended 28 years, however, he cannot sentence Elledge to more than 28 years.
With the second-degree murder conviction, Elledge will be required to serve at least 85% of the sentence given to him by the judge, before being eligible for parole.