Judge Brett Geisler passed Hall’s sentence on Feb. 23 after Hall pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and felony use of a firearm in commission of murder last year.
Geisler sentenced Hall to 40 years on the second-degree murder charge and three years on the felony firearm charge. From there, he said Hall would serve an active sentence of 21 years, nine months in prison, followed by 21 years, three months of supervised probation.
In addition, Hall was ordered to pay court costs and $5,000 in restitution upon release.
“There is no question this is a tragedy for both families,” Geisler said in delivering the sentence. “There is a 21-year-old young man who is still the little boy to Mr. and Mrs. Edwards — what they’ve gone through and what they will go through for the rest of their lives. The Hall family, their son is going to prison for a long time. It’s a tragedy.”
Originally charged with first-degree murder, Hall pled guilty in Carroll County Circuit Court on Nov. 17, 2010 to second-degree murder in the shooting death of Edwards around March 6, 2009 at Stewart’s Creek near Lambsburg. Hall also entered a guilty plea to use of a firearm in commission of a felony.
Edwards was last seen on March 6, 2009 and reported missing by his family two days later. A pair of citizens found his body on April 16, 2009 in Stewart’s Creek, below the old Ruritan Building off Chestnut Grove Road.
During the missing persons investigation, Sheriff’s Deputy Chuck Edwards, a cousin of the victim, interviewed Hall concerning the last time he saw Edwards, and a search of cellphone records was conducted, which revealed that calls had been received by Justin Edwards’ phone, but no calls had been made.
Hall was arrested by the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office less than 24 hours after the positive identification of Edwards’ body. Chuck Edwards helped identify him, recognizing Justin Edwards’ “JWE” tattoo, which was on his forearm.
Sheriff Warren Manning said last year deputies believe the murder weapon was a shotgun, adding that the department has recovered a shotgun and shotgun shells. Manning said the murder was drug related and began with a fishing trip between Justin Edwards and Hall, who Manning said were friends.
After Hall’s arrest and transport to the New River Valley Regional Jail, Investigator Venton Smith said Hall demanded to be returned to Hillsville, and that he wanted to talk to investigators. He was transported back to the Sheriff’s Office. At 7:56 p.m. on April 17, 2009, Hall executed a second Miranda waiver and issued a written statement to Investigators Smith, Goad and Fred Bobbitt, in which he confessed to the crime.