COLUMBIA, Missouri (KMIZ) –
Both parties to the Joseph Elledge murder trial finalized the case before a Boone County jury convened.
The case is expected to move forward on Monday with jury selection at the Boone County Courthouse. The court will choose Monday morning from among 100 people to sit on the jury for a trial that could last two to three weeks.
Elledge is charged with killing his wife, Mengqi Ji, in October 2019. Prosecutors charged him with first degree murder in February, claiming he strangled Ji and left his body in Rock Bridge State Park. Ji’s remains were found at Rock Bridge State Park earlier this year.
Judge Brouck Jacobs has rejected a request by defense lawyer Scott Rosenblum to question individual jurors about what they have heard or know about the case. Rosenblum said the case had received considerable media attention and wanted to know what specific jurors knew about the case from those sources.
Boone County District Attorney Dan Knight said he expected more than 85% of jurors to have heard of it. He said each party could ask jurors if they have heard of the case and if they can put that aside to judge the case solely on what is presented in court.
Jacobs and the two lawyers will have the opportunity to ask the jury several questions, including what they know about the case and their availability to serve on the jury. Boone County Court Administrator Cindy Garrett said the court pays the jury six dollars for jury selection day. Selected jurors are paid $ 21 for each day they serve. All those called to serve on the jury are also paid according to the distance traveled to court.
If the court is unable to choose a jury on Monday, the court will summon a second group of 75 potential jurors on Tuesday.
Jacobs also denied Rosenblum and Matei Stroescu’s request to keep certain statements Elledge made to police out of the case. Columbia Police detectives spoke to Elledge on October 14 and 15, 2019 about Ji’s disappearance. Stroescu argued that the police did not tell Elledge that he did not have to talk to them.
Former Police Detective Allen Mitchell said he and Detective John Voss first spoke to Elledge on October 14, 2019 in his apartment. Voss asked him to come to the police station the next day, which Elledge agreed to do. Elledge reportedly spoke to police for three hours on October 15, with Voss asking specific questions about whether Elledge killed Ji. Stroescu pointed out that the police never told him of his Miranda rights, but Knight maintained that Elledge was always free to leave if he wanted to.
A judge ruled Thursday to allow expert testimony from plant and soil scientists. The defense questioned the methods scientists used to match the soil found on Elledge’s boots to the soil found at the site where police found Ji’s body, saying there was no way to determine the error rate of the analysis.