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COLUMBIA, Mo. – A Missouri man convicted of killing his wife and burying her body near their home in Columbia in 2019 was sentenced Friday to 28 years in prison.

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Update 4:18 p.m. EST Jan. 7: Judge Brouck Jacobs imposed the sentence just after 4 p.m. EST on Friday.

Original report: Jurors convicted Joseph Elledge, 26, of second-degree murder in November and later recommended he serve the maximum 28-year sentence, KOMU-TV reported.

Elledge killed his wife, Mengqi Ji, in October 2019. He reported her missing on the afternoon of Oct. 10, 2019 and initially claimed that he had last seen her two days earlier, when she went to bed.

>> Related: Missouri man who buried wife’s body in 2019 convicted of 2nd-degree murder

In court, Elledge admitted to lying about Ji’s disappearance and burying her body in a nearby state park, though he claimed her death was an accident, the Columbia Daily Tribune reported. He testified in court that the two got into an argument on Oct. 8, 2019, over an online relationship he had uncovered between Ji and a man from her native China, according to the newspaper. He said that she hit her head against kitchen cabinets after they both shoved each other.

He testified that he found Ji dead after waking to their 1-year-old daughter’s crying the next morning and that he panicked, the Daily Tribune reported. He said he didn’t call 911 because “it looked bad. I knew other people would suspect me,” according to KOMU.

>> Related: Body of Chinese woman missing since 2019 found, Missouri authorities say

Instead, Elledge put his dead wife’s body in the trunk of his car and drove with his daughter to buy a shovel, the news station reported. He later drove with his daughter to Rock Bridge Memorial State Park, where he buried Ji, according to KOMU.

Elledge and Ji met in 2015 after she moved from China to study engineering at the University of Missouri, The Associated Press reported. They married in 2017 after dating for about a year, according to the AP.

Authorities found Ji’s remains in March 2021 after a hiker spotted them, officials said. In the area, police said they found several items belonging to Ji. Investigators identified her through dental records.