Convicted killer's wife goes to trial in his ex-girlfriend's grisly slaying
Posted January 21
Raleigh, N.C. — 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.