New DNA Evidence Delays Murder Trial

SNOW HILL — The first-degree murder trial of a Texas man charged in the death of a Delaware woman reported missing in Pocomoke in 2007 was postponed this week after new DNA evidence in the case recently came to light.

The trial of Justin Michael Hadel, 20, of College Station, Texas, was scheduled to get started Tuesday but was postponed after the new evidence had not been reviewed by the defense. The trial was laid in for three days from Tuesday to Thursday, but has now been moved back to June.

Hadel has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of Christine Marie Sheddy, then 27, of Bowers Beach, Del. Sheddy was first reported missing in Pocomoke in November 2007 and her remains were found under a bed-and-breakfast in Snow Hill last Feb. 19. A short time later, Hadel was arrested in Texas and extradited to Worcester County to face the first-degree murder charge.

Hadel appeared in Worcester County Circuit Court on Tuesday, shackled and dressed in a striped corrections jumpsuit, along with his public defender, James Murray. Worcester County State’s Attorney Beau Oglesby appeared for the state with Judge Thomas C. Groton on the bench. However, the proceedings were brief as Oglesby asked the judge for a continuance in order to provide the defense with recently discovered additional evidence.

“Some new DNA evidence that just came to light in the last week or so and the defense hasn’t seen it,” said Oglesby after the short proceeding on Tuesday. “They have to have their 30 days to review it and decide what they want to do with it.”

Sheddy was last seen on Nov. 13, 2007 in the Byrd Street area of Pocomoke. She reportedly left her home in Delaware earlier in November 2007 with her two young sons, ages two and four at the time, in tow to live with a couple on a farm in Pocomoke. Sheddy also has an older daughter.

On or about Nov. 13, 2007, the couple with whom Sheddy was staying with left the residence to pick up their own children at school. When they returned, Sheddy was gone and her two young sons were left home alone. She was reported missing and a massive search throughout much of the southern end of Worcester County was undertaken to no avail.

For over two years, Sheddy’s disappearance was handled as a missing person’s case by the Worcester County Bureau of Investigation (WCBI) and the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office with the assistance of the Maryland State Police and the Worcester County State’s Attorney’s Office.

During the investigation, information developed suggesting Sheddy was likely murdered at the farm in Pocomoke. Unknown witnesses told investigators Hadel was responsible for Sheddy’s murder and provided investigators with a potential location of her remains. It was revealed Hadel was a guest at the same residence on Byrd Rd. in Pocomoke where Sheddy was staying.

On Feb. 19 last year, investigators searched the area described by witnesses as the possible location of Sheddy’s remains. During the search, a clandestine grave was excavated on the grounds of the River House Inn, a bed and breakfast on East Market Street in Snow Hill. The state medical examiner’s office later ruled her death a homicide.

The day after the remains were unearthed charges were issued against Hadel including first-degree murder. He was later extradited to Worcester to face the charges and has remained behind bars since. Oglesby said this week the trial’s postponement was necessary to ensure the case is handled properly.

“There are protocols and timetables that have to be honored,” he said. “This is a very serious, perhaps the most serious of cases, and we have to make certain everything is by the book and airtight.”