Local News

Convicted killer's wife goes to trial in his ex-girlfriend's grisly slaying

Posted January 21

— Jury selection began Tuesday in the first-degree murder trial of a Raleigh woman accused of killing her husband's ex-girlfriend and then disposing of her dismembered remains in a Texas creek more than two years ago.

Amanda Hayes, 41, also faces a charge of accessory after the fact in the July 13, 2011, death of 27-year-old Laura Ackerson, who prosecutors say was murdered by Hayes and her husband, Grant Hayes. He was convicted of first-degree murder in September and is serving a life sentence at Pasquotank Correctional Institute in Elizabeth City.

Jury selection is expected to last a week. Amanda Hayes' trial is expected to last about a month.

Ackerson and Grant Hayes, prosecutors said during his trial, had been involved in a bitter child custody dispute over the two young sons they shared.

The state hasn't said how Amanda Hayes was involved in the crime, but Grant Hayes has said she killed Ackerson during an argument.

Her defense attorneys have said in court documents that she was living in fear of her husband, who threatened to kill her and their children, and that any involvement she might have had was while she was under duress.

Prosecutors, however, say she is just as culpable in the crime. They argued at Grant Hayes' trial that the couple lured Ackerson, who lived in Kinston, to their Raleigh apartment, killed her, cut up her body and transported it in coolers to Richmond, Texas – about 60 miles from Houston – and threw them in a creek about 100 yards from the home of Amanda Hayes' sister.

Grant Hayes, who has maintained his innocence but admitted to getting rid of Ackerson's body, said in a Jan. 17 telephone interview with WRAL News that Ackerson had come to his Raleigh apartment to negotiate a custody settlement.

He said he was out of the room when Ackerson threatened to take the Hayeses' 1-month-old daughter, and the two women got into a fight and Amanda Hayes elbowed Ackerson in the neck.

"My wife is not guilty of murder in any sense of the word. What she did was a reflex, and the injuries (Laura) sustained as a result of (Amanda) defending herself and her child led to her death," Grant Hayes said. "Laura got herself killed. I don't blame Amanda."

An autopsy could not determine how Ackerson died

Ackerson was a co-owner of GoFish Graphic Design, a marketing agency in Kinston, and was the mother of two of Grant Hayes' children, who are now 4 and 5 years old.

Grant Hayes, a musician who performed for years in the Triangle under the name Grant Haze, met Amanda Hayes in the Virgin Islands in 2009, and they married in April 2010.

10 Comments

This story is closed for comments. Comments on WRAL.com news stories are accepted and moderated between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Oldest First
View all
  • tigresspen Jan 23, 11:18 a.m.

    Grant comes across as a narcissistic bully in his interview. Still refusing to take responsibilty for his actions. So how is jury selection in Amanda's trial faring?

  • monami Jan 22, 3:01 p.m.

    "Grant Hayes, comes to the defense of his wife by declaring she DID IT"

    Yes, but he's claiming it was an accident due to the wife defending herself after having her hair pulled. He's trying to get them both off!

    JAT, like I said, we'll see what the evidence shows about the defendant's character. Maybe my impression will change. But for now, I consider her an aggressor, not a victim.

  • feistyredhead2001 Jan 22, 2:48 p.m.

    "My wife is not guilty of murder in any sense of the word. What she did was a reflex, and the injuries (Laura) sustained as a result of (Amanda) defending herself and her child led to her death," Grant Hayes said. Sounds like he's back pedaling! She's guilty, she is just as guilty as he is !

  • djofraleigh Jan 22, 1:51 p.m.

    The convicted killer, Grant Hayes, comes to the defense of his wife by declaring she DID IT. What a joke! Had he confirmed her story that he threatened her to cooperate, then she would get off with an accessory after the fact, time served and go home to her baby. But Grant is a sociopath with only his interests in mind and still thinks his lawyers will get him out of jail somehow, so he bends the story to defend himself. He's a con man who believes his own lies. He has no credence with me. Amanda sealed her fate to his when she helped butcher the body & take it to her sister's down south, then didn't find a way to tell authorities. Society can't let people kill & butcher women then walk free even if she married to a self-serving monster. As always, children suffer the failings of their parents. They are better off without them, in this case. May their parents' history be kept from them.

  • kikinc Jan 22, 1:23 p.m.

    I couldn't tell you why, but I always had this awful feeling that she was the mastermind in this whole thing and he was the little puppy who obeyed her every command. Maybe it was the way they looked at each other earlier on, but she gives me the heebie jeebies just by looking at her eyes.

  • JAT Jan 22, 1:20 p.m.

    monami - there would have to be alot of proof she was that mean and hateful before she supposedly killed. it's not "playing up" the angle; it's just a fact that most women are not "like that" especially one who has just given birth. Yes, it was horrible what happened after the murder, in spite of who actually did it, but that can totally be the result of pressure and fear. For all we know, he did all the sawing up and then told her that he was going to pin it all on her and take all 3 of his kids. Given that fear, I'd have driven the body to TX, too, probably. I haven't seen anything to say that she was a "bad" person before the murder.

  • monami Jan 22, 12:50 p.m.

    "I can't see a woman being that cruel and spiteful unless depression had hit her or she was scared for her life and her child's life."

    She and her defense attorneys are banking on jurors having the same point of view. Poor little woman, just had a baby, she must have been afraid, had PPD, etc., etc.

    The defense will play up this angle. We'll see what the facts show, at least those that are able to be presented to the jury. But based on what I have seen, this woman is no angel.

  • JAT Jan 22, 12:00 p.m.

    First, I don't think the victim went to the house to "sell" her kid to this man. He may have told his wife that to make her angry but I don't believe it for one second. Second, the woman had just given birth 1 month before this and killing someone is not usually on a new mother's mind. It's entirely possible that the 2 did get an argument but the way Hayes refers to her "getting herself killed" is pretty harsh and indicates he got the right sentence in his case. I can't imagine having to saw someone up and take her body to Texas after just giving birth to a baby. I can't see a woman being that cruel and spiteful unless depression had hit her or she was scared for her life and her child's life. It's sad that 2 kids will never know their mother; and that she's now seen the man who "loved" her for what he really is.

  • 678devilish Jan 22, 11:15 a.m.

    She is guilty and took part in the murder. She is going to prison whether she realize that or not. He husband may testify against her even though he is already in prison for life for this murder.

  • ericwhiteman1 Jan 22, 8:11 a.m.

    I notice a trend with Mr. Hayes here... This is rather sick and twisted, and just reflects the culture of our "great American" society...