Stepfather charged in AJ Hadsell’s murder pleads not guilty

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COURTLAND, Va. (WAVY) — The man charged with the killing of his stepdaughter has pleaded not guilty.

Wesley Hadsell entered the plea Tuesday morning in a Southampton County courtroom, and requested a trial by jury. A motions hearing has been set for May 21.

A grand jury indicted Hadsell on murder charges in mid-November — more than three years after the disappearance and death of Anjelica “A.J.” Hadsell. 

Wesley Hadsell, who has long been a suspect in the case, is faced with two murder charges — one accidental and the other deliberate and premeditated. Attorneys told 10 On Your Side this gives prosecutors a better chance of getting one or both convictions.

PREVIOUS: Hadsell murder charges explained

18-year-old A.J. Hadsell vanished while she was home in Norfolk on spring break in March 2015. Investigators found her body a month later behind an abandoned home in Southampton County.

Investigators determined A.J. died of homicidal violence and acute heroin poisoning.

According to court documents, police found her body using the GPS from Wesley Hadsell’s work van. They also found a shovel, work gloves and a roll of duct tape — all of which had dirt residue.

Hadsell continued to maintain his innocence in the case over the years, despite the evidence. 10 On Your Side spoke with Hadsell in 2015 when A.J. had only been missing for a few weeks.  

When asked whether he could confidently say he had nothing to do with her disappearance, Hadsell told 10 On Your Side, “Yes sir, I can say with 100 percent confidence.”

Investigators received letters from an inmate at Western Tidewater Regional Jail who claimed Hadsell told him specific information about his stepdaughter’s death.

Hadsell, who is also charged with concealing a body, is currently serving a 10-year sentence on a possession of ammunition charge. 

The 40-year-old has been in and out of custody since he was 12, having been convicted at least 10 other times on charges ranging from breaking and entering to forgery.

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