Court vacates Hadsell’s sentence, sends case back for resentencing

Wesley Hadsell. WAVY-TV 10 Photo.

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — An appeals court has vacated the prison sentence for Wesley Hadsell, and has sent the case back for resentencing, court records show.

Hadsell, the step father of Anjelica “AJ” Hadsell, was sentenced in November to 20 years in prison for being a felon in possession of ammunition. Now, that time behind bars on that charge will likely be split in half thanks to a technicality.

Hadsell appealed the district court’s decision that a prior statutory burglary conviction was a violent felony.

Hadsell won’t walk, but he will get a new sentence much less than the one he got.

READ: Appeals court decision on Wesley Hadsell

When the federal judge sentenced Hadsell to 20 years on the ammunition charge, she took into account his extensive criminal history. Without the classification as “armed career criminal” — which requires three prior convictions — Hadsell could have faced no more than 10 years in prison.

So you can imagine how happy Hadsell was when his attorney Jason Dunn called him to say a higher court ruled he has to be resentenced.

“He was very positive, and happy to hear from me today so good start to today,” said Hadsell’s attorney, Jason Dunn. “I was extremely pleased. It at least cut my client’s sentence in half.”

The lower court judge’s decision was based on Hadsell being convicted of  three violent felonies under the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA). Dunn successfully convinced the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals that one of the three charges under the ACCA — a Virginia burglary — was not a qualifying violent felony.

“The ACCA is subject to three violent felonies, and it was my position he only had two. That’s why I appealed, and that is why the court ruled the way they did because he only has two qualifying offenses rather than three,” Dunn said.

The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in its determination doesn’t take into account details of the crime.

“They don’t even get into the facts of the case. They don’t look at it,” Dunn explained. “They just say, ‘If it is more broad then the federal definition of a generic burglary, then it doesn’t count as a violent felony.’”

That means Hadsell’s 20-year sentence on the ammunition charge is thrown out and the case is being sent back to the lower court for resentencing. Dunn thinks Hadsell could get his sentence cut in half to 10 years.

However, Hadsell will not be released from an Ohio jail, where he faces rape and kidnapping charges against his estranged wife. He also faces a heroin case in Norfolk, and as 10 On Your Side first reported in March, police consider Hadsell a person of interest in the murder of his step-daughter, Angelica “AJ” Hadsell.

GPS from Hadsell’s work van led to adopted daughter’s body

“AJ” Hadsell disappeared two years ago, and was found dead 50 miles away from her home.

It’s not clear when the resentencing will take place on the ammunition charge, but Hadsell’s next court appearance is July 11 in Ohio on the rape charge against his estranged wife.

10 On Your Side is working to learn more about this latest development.