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Ex-Gov. Ralph Northam testifies in Wesley Hadsell murder trial

Former Governor Ralph Northam, who is also a doctor, testified on Tuesday. He said he first met AJ Hadsell in 2013 and last treated her in January 2015.

SOUTHAMPTON COUNTY, Va. — Former Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam took the stand Tuesday in the Wesley Hadsell trial. 

Hadsell is accused of killing his 18-year-old step-daughter AJ Hadsell in 2015.

Northam testified because he is also a child neurologist at the Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters in Norfolk. He treated AJ Hadsell for migraines.

He told jurors she had migraines after suffering a concussion from playing soccer in 2013. Northam said the last time he saw AJ was in January 2015, at her last doctor's appointment.

After testing some medicines and they didn’t work for AJ, he prescribed her Nortriptyline. In the 1970s, scientists created the drug to treat depression, but Northam said it’s now commonly used to help with migraines. 

Northam testified that he got to know AJ and called her “a great kid” who always seemed happy.

One of the theories for the defense is AJ possibly committed suicide and overdosed by taking that medicine.

Wesley Hadsell’s attorney, James Ellenson, asked Northam about a Mayo Clinic report that said the medication AJ took could cause suicidal thoughts. Northam said every medicine, including cough syrup, has potential side effects.

Northam said he can spot someone with depression, and said AJ wasn’t depressed.

In other testimony on Tuesday, the lead Norfolk Police detective on the case, David Benjamin, told jurors that call records confirm Hadsell lied about receiving tips about people finding AJ’s clothes on the side of the road. 

Benjamin asked Hadsell about when was the last time he saw AJ, and Hadsell said that was on March 1, 2015. 

Benjamin said Hadsell said he dropped his daughter off at the home where his wife was living and AJ was there. Benjamin said Hadsell told him AJ “seemed like she wanted to talk to me” and “her eyes stated she wanted to talk to me.”

Benjamin also said the day AJ disappeared, Hadsell told him AJ called him and asked for money. He said the phone records show AJ never called Hadsell.

Credit: Family Photo
Anjelica "AJ" Hadsell

Two FBI agents also testified on Tuesday. The testimony talked about Hadsell’s phone and GPS searches.

One agent said AJ and Wesley Hadsell’s phones hit on nearby towers several times the day AJ disappeared. 

The FBI agent said on March 4, Hadsell’s GPS showed up in Franklin and went to the North Carolina line. They also tracked his phone, which was in that location at the same time. 

On March 4 at 11:52 am, the GPS location said it was in the driveway of a home on Smith Ferry Road. He left that location at 12:13 pm. Investigators found AJ’s body behind a home on Smith Ferry Road in April of 2015.

The agents also checked the phones of AJ’s friends, and they were never in Franklin or near Southampton County.

The prosecution expects to rest its case by Thursday.

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