Virginia man gets life plus 15 years in stepdaughter’s death

A Virginia man convicted of murdering his 18-year-old stepdaughter and hiding her body behind an abandoned house in 2015 has been sentenced to life in prison plus 15 years.

Wesley Hadsell was convicted earlier this year of killing 18-year-old Anjelica “A.J.” Hadsell. He was sentenced Monday by a judge to the maximum allowed for each charge he was convicted of, including first-degree murder, concealing a body and possessing drugs in jail, The Virginian-Pilot reported.

Hadsell asserted his innocence, suggesting his stepdaughter had killed herself, drawing a sharp rebuke from Circuit Judge L. Wayne Farmer at sentencing.

“I have been wrongfully convicted of these crimes, but this fight is not over,” Hadsell told Farmer, saying he would appeal.

Farmer scolded Hadsell for trying to pin the crime on others, then implying the woman took her own life.

“To blame her — it’s offensive,” the judge said. “You took a beautiful life and dumped it like trash.”

Prosecutors said the defendant had kidnapped the stepdaughter, assaulted her and then injected her with a lethal dose of heroin. She was spending her spring break from Longwood University at her family’s home in Norfolk when she disappeared in March 2015.

Her body was found five weeks later partially buried in a drainage ditch behind an abandoned house. A medical examiner determined she had died from acute heroin poisoning and “homicidal violence.”

Hadsell wasn’t charged for the murder until 2018. His first trial in 2020 was declared a mistrial after two days over a disagreement on what evidence the jury should be allowed to hear.

Prosecutors said that shortly before A.J. Hadsell disappeared, Wesley Hadsell’s wife kicked him out of the house because of his drug use. Investigators said Wesley Hadsell kidnapped his stepdaughter while she was folding laundry and listening to music in the living room.

Hadsell then tried to distract police by lying and planting evidence in various places, including one of her jackets at her friend’s home, prosecutors said. Hadsell admitted to breaking into the home during an interview with a local TV station, but denied hiding the jacket there.

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