SOUTHAMPTON COUNTY, Va. (WAVY) — Wesley Hadsell sat down with 10 On Your Side this week at the Western Tidewater Regional Jail to discuss his murder trial, conviction, and plans for appeal.
Last week, a jury convicted Hadsell of first-degree murder and concealment of a body for the death of his 18-year-old step-daughter AJ Hadsell back in 2015.
During our conversation, Hadsell maintained he did not kill AJ. He said he plans to file an appeal.
“I would not have put my daughter out there like trash in someone’s backyard and left her there like that,” said Hadsell.
He stood stoic as court officials read out the guilty verdict.
“I wasn’t going to break down. I’m not going to accept that verdict,” said Hadsell. “I wasn’t going to accept it because it’s not true.”
After more than two weeks of testimony, it took the jury only 41 minutes to convict Hadsell of both charges — unusually quick in a case this complex.
“Their minds were 100% made up before they deliberated,” said Hadsell. “It didn’t make sense to come back that quick. This wasn’t a clear-cut case.”
We asked if he was surprised by the verdict.
“It came back so fast, not really,” Hadsell responded.
It took three years for Hadsell to be charged with AJ’s murder. The prosecution’s case against him was mostly circumstantial. There was no “smoking gun.” During the trial, the prosecution didn’t prove how Hadsell gave AJ the heroin that killed her.
The most damming evidence against Hadsell was the fact police found AJ’s body by following the GPS history on Hadsell’s work van from the days following her disappearance.
So how did AJ’s body get behind that house? Hadsell says he has no idea. He only says he was never at that house. Hadsell points out the GPS on his work van was detachable. We asked if he thought someone was framing him.
“There’s other things at play here that I can’t speak on because I don’t know,” he said.
In the state of Virginia, the prosecution doesn’t have to prove a motive in murder cases. This worked in the prosecution’s favor for this case because there’s no clear motive for why Hadsell would have killed his stepdaughter. The commonwealth theorized the murder may have been sexually motivated. AJ’s body was so decomposed by the time she was found that the medical examiner said we’ll never know for sure if she was sexually assaulted before her death.
Hadsell says this theory makes him extremely angry, “because they’re trying to make something out of something that isn’t true. I mean people who know me know I have values. I have morals. That is something I take as very serious. That is absolutely disgusting that they even tried to make that connection.”
Hadsell’s sentencing hearing is set for April 4.
He plans to appeal the verdict.