Missing Chinese woman’s spouse wants child abuse trial moved

January 14, 2020 GMT

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri man who is a suspect in the disappearance of his Chinese wife wants to have his child abuse and endangerment trial moved because of extensive media coverage.

Defense attorney John O’Connor said in a court filing Friday that the “substantial media buzz” could handicap Joseph Elledge if he is tried in Boone County, the Columbia Missourian reports.

Elledge has been jailed in the county on $500,000 bond since about two weeks after reporting that his wife, Mengqi Ji Elledge, was missing. He is not charged in her disappearance, although prosecutors say he is the prime suspect.

But he is charged with two counts of child endangerment and one count of child abuse. Boone County Chief Prosecutor Dan Knight has said he sought one of the endangerment charges based on the argument that Elledge separated his wife from the couple’s 1-year-old daughter and that the separation created “a substantial risk to the life or body or health” to her.

Authorities have been searching on and off in the Lamine River near Boonville for her body.

“Media coverage in this case has been constant and on a daily basis regarding the search for the defendant’s wife,” O’Connor wrote in the motion.