FRANKLIN, Va. (WAVY) — Day four of the murder trial of Wesley Hadsell continued in Franklin on Tuesday.
Hadsell is accused of killing his 18-year-old stepdaughter Angelica “AJ” Hadsell back in 2015.
The days started with three hours of extensive testimony from the medical examiner Dr. Wendy Gunther, who unpacked the autopsy results. She explained her conclusion that AJ died of heroin poisoning. According to Gunther AJ had nearly triple the lethal dose of heroin in her system. Graphic images were projected onto the big screen. Hadsell didn’t look up and periodically reached for tissues during Gunther’s testimony.
Next, prosecutors called AJ’s college roommate Hannah Selfridge. Selfridge testified AJ was a neat, organized, driven college student with plans to graduate in three years.
The most emotional testimony of the day came from AJ’s little sister, now-21-year-old Justice Hoffer.
Hoffer is four years younger than AJ. She said the two were very close and shared a room at home.
The last time she saw her sister was on a Monday morning while AJ was home from spring break. She expected to see her sister again after school that day, but when she got home AJ was gone.
Hoffer said things at home didn’t feel right that afternoon. AJ was gone but her wallet was left on the couch, the front door was unlocked, the dog was outside and the laundry was only half folded.
During cross-examination, defense attorney James Ellenson asked Hoffer if they found a note the day AJ disappeared.
Justice said yes, she and her mom saw the note at the same time.
It was a short note that read “I need some time.”
19 On Your Side caught up with the defense team after court adjourned for the day. Ellenson said there is forensic evidence that the note is in AJ’s handwriting.
Ellenson said they’ll dive deeper into the note later in the trial.
In the theory the prosecution laid out in opening statements, Wesley Hadsell had a window of opportunity to attack AJ when he took a two-hour lunch break the day she disappeared instead of the normal allotted 30 minutes to an hour break.
His co-worker, Julia Smith, testified Tuesday as well, saying Hadsell was “not his normal self” when he returned from lunch the day AJ disappeared.
Smith said their boss ended up sending Hadsell home early because he was so preoccupied with whatever family issues he said he was dealing with.
Testimony will continue Wednesday.