Defense wants 'critical' new evidence tested in Raleigh murder case
Posted December 16, 2013
Updated December 30, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — 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.