FRANKLIN, Va. (WAVY) — A judge sentenced Wesley Hadsell on Monday to life in prison plus 15 years for the murder of his stepdaughter AJ Hadsell, saying Hadsell showed the most “callous, egregious conduct I can envision.”

In early February, Wesley Hadsell was found guilty of first-degree murder and concealment of a body involving AJ’s death.

Hadsell was accused of killing 18-year-old Angelica “AJ” Hadsell back in 2015 while she was on spring break from Longwood University. Her body was found about a month later at an abandoned home in Southampton County after investigators tracked the GPS in Hadsell’s work van.

Noticeably absent during Monday’s sentencing hearing were AJ Hadsell’s family and friends. These hearings are typically when family members take the stand to read victim impact statements.

Southampton County Commonwealth’s Attorney Eric Cooke said emotions are still so raw and AJ’s murder has broken the family. The seventh anniversary of AJ’s body being found is this Saturday, April 9.

AJ’s first step-father, Zach Hoffer, came to court with a victim impact statement. Hoffer and AJ’s mother Jennifer have two daughters together. The defense voiced an objection since Hoffer doesn’t meet the court criteria to give a victim statement.

Hoffer did not accept the decision lightly. He refused to get up from the witness stand and began to read his statement anyways. Southampton Sheriff’s deputies intervened, forcibly removing Hoffer from the stand. Hoffer resisted, spewing a string of expletives at Wesley Hadsell as he walked by. At one point Hoffer lunged at the defendant yelling “AJ is my daughter, you coward.”

Hoffer continued to flail and resist deputies. Hoffer is a large man, standing around 6’4″ or 6’5″. It took about five deputies to get control of him. Eventually, law enforcement had him on the ground and handcuffs were placed around his wrists. He was escorted out of the courtroom.

A sense of shock descended on the courtroom as this scene played out. During the chaos, the judge left the courtroom. Officials later said this was for safety reasons.

The sheriff’s office confirmed Hoffer was charged with obstructing justice. He was released on bond.

From WAVY’s vantage point in the back, Hadsell looked calm and stoic. The judge later commented that Hadsell had a smirk on his face during Hoffer’s outburst and arrest.

New laws from Richmond aiming to reduce the amount of incarceration time reduced the sentencing guidelines for first-degree murder. The new guidelines call for a minimum of 42 years and a maximum of 70 years. The commonwealth asked the judge to give Hadsell life in prison.

Hadsell did speak in court today on his behalf. The written statement he read aloud said how much he loved his daughter and his family and how he would never do this. The judge didn’t buy it.

The judge gave Hadsell life in prison for first-degree murder, the maximum five years for concealment of a body, and the maximum of 10 years for possession of drugs in prison.

While handing down the sentence, the judge gave Hadsell a brief but scathing speech saying “you took a beautiful young life and dumped her like a piece of trash in a pit.” The judge continued with “every day you spend incarcerated is a day the community doesn’t have to worry about what you’re doing.”

Hadsell gave no reaction. After court his lawyer, James Ellenson said it was what he was expecting from the day.

After three weeks of testimony, it took the jury just 40 minutes to find Hadsell guilty on all charges — a clear victory for Commonwealth’s Attorney Eric Cooke and Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Toni Colvin.

After the trial, Hadsell’s lawyer filed a motion for the judge to set aside the jury verdict, arguing there was not sufficient evidence to convict. One of the main points in the motion was that it only took 40 minutes to deliberate on a complex case.

The judge denied the motion to set aside the verdict, saying, “I have been in court for criminal jury trials for 30 years and have not been in a courtroom where a jury paid closer attention. They were very attentive.” The judge added that the period of time for jury deliberation was irrelevant, calling the evidence against Hadsell “overwhelming.”

According to a medical examiner, AJ died due to homicidal violence and acute heroin poisoning.

Hadsell’s first trial in 2020 ended in a mistrial after only two and a half days.