NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Wesley Hadsell was sentenced Tuesday to 20 years in prison for being a felon in possession of ammunition.
Investigators found ammunition in Hadsell’s hotel room in 2015 while they were searching for his then missing adopted daughter, Anjelica “AJ” Hadsell.
AJ Hadsell went missing in March 2015, and was later found dead on an abandoned property some 50 miles from her home.
Wesley Hadsell was arrested during the search. He became a person of interest in the case, but never became a suspect.
In court Tuesday, a federal judge ruled Hadsell is considered an “armed career criminal” — a classification which intensifies his sentencing guidelines and requires three prior convictions. Without the classification, Hadsell would have faced a maximum of 10 years behind bars. However, with the classification, a judge had to consider anywhere from 15 years to life in prison.
Hadsell’s defense attorney, Jason Dunn, says he plans to appeal the classification.
“It definitely caught me off guard,” he said. “I was surprised.”
Dunn says because the U.S. Attorney’s office recommended a sentence of 15 years, he was surprised the judge decided on 20. In court, Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen said she considered Hadsell’s long criminal history. He is 38-years-old and has been in and out of custody since age 12. He has been convicted of bank robbery, breaking and entering, burglary, forgery and other charges. In total, he has been arrested 28 times, and convicted on 12 charges. He also has pending charges in Ohio for rape and kidnapping a woman who was his wife at the time.
“There is no question in the court’s mind that society is safer if you’re not here for a while,” Judge Allen told Hadsell.
Judge Allen noted Hadsell has been on a “roller coaster ride” since the age of 12, and that his risk of re-offending is “very very high.”
She also noted Hadsell’s history of mental health issues and suicide attempts.
“We intend to appeal, and we’ll be filing an appeal in the coming days and hopefully the fourth circuit will take that up,” Dunn said of the “armed career criminal” classification.