Man charged with first-degree murder of Mengqi Ji pleads not guilty
COLUMBIA —A formal plea of not guilty in the murder of Mengqi Ji was filed on behalf of Joseph Elledge by his lawyer Tuesday in the Boone County Courthouse.
Elledge has two pending criminal cases. Tuesday's plea of not guilty was for the first-degree murder charge he is facing. He also faces child abuse and domestic assault charges.
Before Tuesday's hearing, Elledge had been slated to go to trial for murder on June 2, according to online court records.
That trial date was cancelled. A status hearing for the murder case is now scheduled for 1:30 p.m. June 26.
Mengqi Ji was reported missing last October. Elledge was named as a prime suspect in her disappearance by Boone County Chief Prosecutor Dan Knight in November and later was indicted by a grand jury.
Lawyer Scott Rosenblum is now defending Elledge against the first-degree murder charge. Past clients of Rosenblum include former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens, the rapper Nelly and several professional athletes.
While Rosenblum was not in court Tuesday, an associate from his firm said the defense wanted to delay the trial. Among the reasons cited was that they were still receiving information from the state.
Elledge's other case involves three different charges. He is charged with abuse or neglect and with endangering the welfare of his 1-year-old daughter. He is also charged with third-degree domestic assault involving Mengqi Ji.
A June 8 date has been set for a status hearing concerning that case.