FRANKLIN, Va. — One of the murder charges against a man accused of killing his stepdaughter has been dropped.
“That’s good. It’s less that we have to defend on,” explained Hadsell’s attorney James Ellenson.
Wesley Hadsell is currently on trial for the killing of AJ Hadsell in 2015. A day after his defense rested its case, a judge agreed to dismiss Hadsell's second-degree murder charge, as prosecutors said there wasn't enough evidence.
Ellenson said, “I think he’s (Hadsell) feeling very positive as I am as well.”
The second-degree murder charge carried a maximum 40-year sentence. However, the charges Hadsell still faces could get him life in prison. He is still charged with first-degree murder as well as concealment of a dead body.
Hadsell’s lawyer, Kames Ellenson, said there’s still no direct evidence his client murdered AJ.
“I don’t think the Commonwealth has proven their case beyond a reasonable doubt,” Ellenson explained.
According to Virginia law, first-degree murder is defined as "willful, deliberate and premeditated killing," or killing a person while in the process of committing another serious crime, while second-degree murder encompasses all less-planned kinds of murder; that charge can cover heat-of-the-moment slayings or death caused by disregard for human life
The defense and prosecution have rested their cases and on Friday, jurors heard from rebuttal witnesses.
Afterward, the judge told jurors to go home for the day. The defense and prosecution are staying to try and agree on jury instructions.
The judge expects jurors to start deliberating on Monday after closing arguments and jury instructions.