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Trial continues for accused murderer Wesley Hadsell

Posted at 9:42 AM, Feb 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-25 18:53:23-05

SOUTHAMPTON CO., Va. - Opening statements were underway in the murder trial against Wesley Hadsell Tuesday morning.

Fourteen people were chosen to serve on the jury in Southampton County Monday. There were initially 73 potential jurors. Hadsell was charged with murdering his adopted daughter, Anjelica "AJ" Hadsell, in Southampton County in 2015.

Opening statements from the prosecutor and the defense wrapped up just before 11 a.m., Tuesday. The prosecutor said Hadsell planned to murder AJ, then left her body in a ditch. The prosecutor said there were many inconsistencies in Wesley‘s story.

Prosecutors said Hadsell took her cell phone and pretended to be her after she went missing and planted evidence to throw off investigators. The prosecutor said AJ had a bright future and was doing well in school. She was a good kid.

The defense says Wesley is not guilty. They read several emotional poems from AJ‘s journal, showed text messages she sent to her boyfriend that she was having problems with and showed images of a video where she had referenced suicide the day before she went missing.

Defense said AJ was suffering from headaches and was given anti-depressants. Prosecutors are now calling Detective Benjamin to the stand as their first witness.

News 3 met up with Hadsell's defense attorney after court Monday, and asked him about the jury selection.

"I think the judge vetted them well, and I think they're all gonna be impartial in this case. The ones that did seem to know about the case didn't seem to know specifics - specific facts that will come around and bite us later on in the trial," said Defense Attorney James Ellenson.

Potential jurors were asked several questions, like if they know anyone connected with the case, if they've been the victim of a violent crime or if they've had experience with severe drug use.

Several witnesses who are expected to take the stand during the trial were also in court earlier Monday. At a previous hearing, Hadsell's defense requested a subpoena of Governor Ralph Northam because the governor served as his stepdaughter’s doctor.

The judge ruled that a subpoena would be issued to the governor to attend the trial as a witness. The defense said in court that Northam prescribed AJ notriptyline, an antidepressant, in January 2015 while practicing as a physician in Norfolk.

The subpoena reads that AJ’s mother had previously said that AJ had no history of depression. It claims that Northam’s testimony as to why he prescribed AJ an antidepressant and his overall treatment of her is extremely relevant to the case.

Wesley was charged with murdering AJ and concealing her body in November 2018. AJ was reported missing in March 2015, after she returned home on Spring Break from Longwood University.

Her body was found behind a home in Southampton County in April 2015. The Medical Examiner said AJ died from an acute heroin poisoning, ruling her death to be a homicide.

Wesley was arrested shortly after AJ's body was found, but those charges did not relate to her disappearance and death. Wesley repeatedly told News 3 that he didn't have anything to do with AJ's death.

Earlier this year, Wesley pleaded not guilty to the murder and concealing a dead body charge.

When asked how Wesley was feeling about the trial, his attorney told News 3 he is doing fine and is looking forward to being found not guilty.

The judge said this case could take between two and three weeks.