SOUTHAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) — The murder trial for Wesley Hadsell ended in a mistrial on Wednesday after just two and a half days. The trial was anticipated to last weeks.
Wesley Hadsell faces murder charges for the death of his 18-year-old stepdaughter AJ Hadsell back in 2015. AJ disappeared while home in Norfolk on spring break from Longwood University. Her body was found a month later behind an abandoned home in Southampton County.
The judge made the ruling in Southampton County court on Wednesday, in the trial’s third day. The motion for a mistrial was filed by the commonwealth’s attorney, dealing with whether Hadsell’s criminal history prior to the case would be admissible during the trial.
The commonwealth’s attorney filed the mistrial motion Wednesday morning, the judge granted it this this afternoon and told the jury they were free to go home.
“I was shocked,” one juror said. “A lot of people were glad to go home, I wasn’t. I was ready.”
“I think we’re all disappointed. I think everybody’s disappointed,” said Hadsell’s lawyer James Ellenson.
On Friday, the judge set May 19 as the date for Hadsell’s new trial.
Before the trial, the defense and the prosecution made an agreement about Hadsell’s criminal record. The prosecution could use anything Hadsell mentioned about his record to anyone who is not in law enforcement. This includes anything he mentioned to people during the search for AJ’s body and anything he said to the media.
In return, the defense was able to use evidence such as AJ’s calls, texts, and journal entries that otherwise wouldn’t be allowed in court. The defense took advantage of this in their opening statements.
Hadsell’s defense lawyer told 10 On Your Side his client changed his mind about the agreement after listening to his wife’s testimony.
Jennifer Hadsell, who’s also the victim’s mother, took the stand for the prosecution. She made a passing comment about Hadsell’s criminal history and he decided he didn’t want his criminal record brought up during the trial at all.
Getting rid of the agreement meant the commonwealth’s attorney would have to redact much of their evidence, which takes a lot of time. So, the prosecution requested a mistrial and the judge consented.
“There are a million things that you can prepare for in trial and this thing had a million moving parts,” Ellenson said. “A lot of things just sort of crystallize once you start the case and I think that’s what happened for him.”
Ellenson told 10 On Your Side he was in favor of continuing with the trial and the agreement, but at the end of the day it’s his client’s decision.