A Missouri man charged with first-degree murder in the death of his 28-year-old wife claimed that after he pushed her during an altercation, she died accidently.

As part of his murder trial at the Boone County Courthouse, Joseph Elledge took the stand Tuesday, and said that he lied about his wife Mengqi Ji's disappearance and burying her body in a park in Missouri after her death in October two years ago, but did not admit to her murder, reported Columbia Daily Tribune.

After presenting a week of evidence that detailed the couple's relationship that was deteriorating, prosecutors rested their case Monday.

Ji moved from China to the US to study at the University of Missouri and stayed back after exchanging wedding vows with Elledge, who said that he and his wife argued on Oct. 8, 2019, after he asked her about exchanging sexual messages with a man on a messaging service. Then he said that they pushed each other and she lost her balance and fell and hit her head, reported ABC News.

According to him, his wife moved to a couch while he went out for a walk. Later that night, he went to sleep after finding her on their bed. He said that their daughter, Anna, was crying the following day that made him wake up around about 5 am. After checking on his daughter, he returned to the bedroom where he found Ji unresponsive. When he checked her for a pulse, he said that he found her body cold.

Elledge said that he didn't immediately call for help as his mind was "going 100 miles an hour," and he knew people would suspect him, but he called that decision “stupid." So, he placed her body in the trunk of her car, and drove to places like Guthrie and Jefferson City, but didn't know where to bury her so he returned home. He didn't know how to explain why he put his wife's body in the car, so the following day, he lied to Ji's mother and a friend about her whereabouts.

Elledge also took his daughter in the car and headed towards Rock Bridge State Park, and took about a half-hour to dig a grave and bury his wife. When he returned home, he reported her missing.

On Tuesday, Elledge also said that he and Ji had a troubled relationship because of differences caused by their cultures and backgrounds.

Dead body
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