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Defense wants 'critical' new evidence tested in Raleigh murder case

Posted December 16, 2013
Updated December 30, 2013

Laura Ackerson in an undated photo with her sons, Gentle, left, and Grant IV.
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— A defense attorney for a Raleigh woman accused of killing her husband's ex-girlfriend has asked a Superior Court judge for permission to retain for testing what they say is a newly discovered piece of evidence in the case.

In a motion filed Monday, Johnny Gaskins said the find came recently after a court-approved request for defense investigators to search the Dodge Durango of his client, Amanda Perry Hayes.

Hayes, 41, is charged with first-degree murder in the July 13, 2011, death of Laura Jean Ackerson, whose dismembered remains were found 11 days later in a creek near the Richmond, Texas, home of Hayes' sister.

Gaskins does not say in the motion what the evidence is but says it is "critical to the defendant's ability to properly and adequately defend herself at trial" and that Raleigh police never collected it during their search of the SUV, which has been in police custody since Hayes' arrest on July 25, 2011.

Hayes, who also faces an accessory charge in connection with Ackerson's death, is set to go to trial next month.

Her husband, Grant Ruffin Hayes, 34, was convicted in September of the crime and is serving life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Witnesses testified in his trial that he and Ackerson were involved in a bitter custody dispute over their two young sons and that he lured her to his apartment, killed her, cut up her body and drove with his wife and children to Texas to dispose of the remains.

Prosecutors haven't commented on Amanda Hayes' involvement, but Grant Hayes' defense contended that she killed Ackerson during an argument.

Defense attorneys for Amanda Hayes have said in court documents that she participated in the crime because she feared for her life as well as the lives of Ackerson's sons and her 1-month-old daughter.

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  • monami Dec 17, 2013

    "It would seem that she can't legally be both, yet she is charged with both, and this really bothers me."

    Relax. The reason she's charged with both, is her primary charge was 1st degree murder. Now that her husband has been convicted, she's up next. The prosecutors believe she committed first degree murder (so do I). However, if the jury, knowing that the husband was convicted, cannot get past the "reasonable doubt" threshold, they could find her not guilty of murder. (That would be a mistake, in my opinion, but you never know with a jury). Since everyone knows she participated in this crime (it's partly on video for crying out loud and they drove the body to Amanda's sister's house), they added the accessory charge. Hedging bets? I don't see it that way.

    Would you prefer the jury find her not guilty of murder and she walks free? That could happen without the accessory charge being included. Don't worry about it - she deserves more than what's coming to her.

  • djofraleigh Dec 17, 2013

    I trust the jury to do its job with wisdom. These are some terrible people.

  • anti-Hans Dec 17, 2013

    They did it - whatever "evidence" they find will not change the fact that these two killed the woman. Move on.

  • jackleg Dec 17, 2013

    I've heard enough about how crazy it is to kill someone and cut them up and toss them in a creek. I agree, and if someone does that I think they deserve LWOP or death.

    I'm really bothered, though, that the sensationalism distracts people from the shady tactics these DAs use. Why isn't anyone asking about why she's being charged with murder AND accessory after the fact. If the state's theory is correct, she aided in killing the lady, then by definition she's a principal, not an accessory. Accessory after the fact is intended to punish people who aid the principal, not to be a fallback charge.

    It would seem that she can't legally be both, yet she is charged with both, and this really bothers me. I could accept an added conspiracy charge, but fact that they chose to add the accessory charge (and the timing) proves to me that the DA is hedging his bets. This is becoming more and more common. Whether you agree with me or not, I urge you to think about that for a minute.

  • Lightfoot3 Dec 17, 2013

    This is NOT a "who done it?" mystery. We know the guilty parties. While all evidence should be available for trial, it won't affect her guilt.

  • monami Dec 16, 2013

    " nowhere does it say that the attorney took the vehicle..."

    Other sources reported it and showed video of the car being driven away by someone from the defense. The attorney took the vehicle.

    To others: just because Hayes' high profile attorney says there is "new evidence" doesn't mean it's true or valid. This is creativity at work by AH and her attorneys to try and get her off on the murder charge. Boo hoo, she's a victim, and all that...

  • Justic4All Dec 16, 2013

    so just WHERE has this 'important' evidence been for so long? - scuba girl

    According to the media article, in the SUV that has been in police impound since the arrest of the couple. And as we all now know, duly ignored by all LE agencies that specialize in gathering of evidence to prove the accused is guilty. They are not interested in evidence that may prove the accused is innocent. That's not their job.

  • Justic4All Dec 16, 2013

    I guess the murder trial of the X husband must start anew because of this new evidence? The evidence that was previously ignored by LE because it will hurt their case? The hits just keep coming. How many agency's ignored or failed to gather this crucial evidence? Ah, never mind. The judge will probably not allow it anyway. After all it wasn't present during the murder trial so it must not be important or relevant.

  • dontstopnow Dec 16, 2013

    This woman is just as guilty as her husband if she helped him cut her body up and dispose of it!!!! Pure predators!

  • dollibug Dec 16, 2013

    Why would or could any *EVIDENCE* not be presented in a murder trial? This is how *corruption and cover up happens*. It happens a lot. If it is a part of the murder investigation then it should be shared.

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