Jury selection begins in Hadsell case

Published 2:32 pm Monday, February 24, 2020

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Three-quarters of the chairs in Southampton County Circuit Court were filled on Monday morning with potential jurors in the Wesley Paul Hadsell case. Among other things, Hadsell is charged with the first-degree murder of his adopted stepdaughter, Anjelica “A.J.” Hadsell, sometime from March 2 to April 9, 2015. Her body was found in Southampton County and positively identified on April 10 of that year.

Wesley Paul Hadsell

Wayne Farmer, the presiding judge, told everyone in the courtroom that two weeks have been set aside for the trial, but that it could on for a third week. When he asked if anyone had an event or appointment that could not be rescheduled, about nine people raised their hands.

Other questions asked included:

• Do you have anything pressing on your mind that would prevent you from concentrating on the case?

“The duty of a juror is to listen,” said the judge, who stressed the importance of being attentive.

About seven people were seen to have responded.

• Have you formed or expressed an opinion as to the guilt or innocence of the defendant? No hands were raised that time.

• Any hearing or visual issues? Three responded.

• Any problem understanding that the defendant is innocent? No hands raised.

Toni Colvin, the deputy commonwealth attorney, then asked a series of questions, such as:

• Whether or not they or a close family member had ever been prosecuted by the CA’s office. About 15.

• Are there any religious or personal concerns that prevent sitting in judgement. About three.

• Have you or a close family member ever been a victim of a violent crime? About 11 hands were raised.

James Ellenson, who is the defense attorney, alerted the potential jurors that autopsy pictures would be shown and they would be “gruesome and very, very unpleasant.”

“This is real,” Ellenson said. “Will that cause any of you problems?” No hands were raised at that question.

He also said that Walter Joyner is a former Franklin Police Officer and now a private investigator. He asked if anyone knows him, to which seven people responded.

Following instruction from the judge, all the possible jurors filed out and, soon after a break, were called back in one at a time for questioning by the judge, Colvin and Ellenson.

Before their return, though, 11 people stood in the audience and identified themselves as witnesses. They were sworn in by Southampton County Clerk of Court Rick Francis.

Farmer said that each has a responsibility to find out when they are to appear in court, such as on Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. He would issue a capias for arrest if any failed to do so.

“This is a very important case,” said the judge.