FRANKLIN, Va. — The second trial of a man accused of murdering his stepdaughter is beginning to get underway in Southampton County.
“I think we are finally going to get this case tried,” explained Wesley Hadsell’s attorney, James Ellenson.
Wesley Hadsell's first trial ended in a mistrial in 2020, and now the case is moving forward again, following a delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ellenson said, “We are halfway through, pretty close to halfway through getting our jury selected.”
In early March of 2015, 18-year-old Anjelica "AJ" Hadsell disappeared in Norfolk while she was home from Longwood University. On April 9, 2015, detectives found her body in a ditch in Southampton County.
The medical examiner determined AJ died from acute heroin poisoning.
It wasn't until 2018 that the Southampton County Commonwealth's Attorney charged Hadsell in connection with AJ's death. A grand jury indicted Hadsell on charges of first-degree murder, non-capital murder, and felony concealment of a dead body.
“Wes is definitely, he is not guilty of these charges, that is for sure,” said Ellenson.
This will be the second attempt at a trial after Hadsell's first one in 2020 ended with a mistrial.
Hadsell is pleading not guilty.
On Wednesday, attorneys on both sides began to question potential jurors. Ellenson said last week, prosecutors thought about filing a motion to postpone this case due to COVID-19. He said he, the Judge and Commonwealth attorneys met to discuss it.
“The issue or potential issue is if one person on the jury ends up getting positive for COVID. where are we? Once we get the 14 and then we are halfway through the trial. If someone can test positive, then we probably have to have a mistrial,” he explained.
Ellenson said they decided to move forward with the trial and hope everything goes smoothly.
Court officials said they expect opening statements will start on Friday or Monday, and they expect the trial to last about a month.
Hadsell is already in prison serving a 10-year sentence for an unrelated federal ammunition charge that dates back to 2013.
Editor's Note: The below video originally aired Nov. 19, 2018, when Wesley Hadsell was first charged in his AJ Hadsell's murder.