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Defense wants newly found knife tested in Laura Ackerson slaying

Posted December 23, 2013
Updated December 31, 2013

Amanda Hayes, accused of murder and accessory after the fact to murder in the July 13, 2011, death of Laura Ackerson, speaks to her attorney Rosemary Godwin during a pre-trial hearing on Nov. 5, 2013, at the Wake County Justice Center in Raleigh.
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— Defense attorneys preparing for the first-degree murder trial of a Raleigh woman accused of killing her husband's ex-girlfriend now want access to a knife that they say police found Friday in their client's SUV.

In a motion filed Monday, attorney Johnny Gaskins says the weapon had been hidden in the center console of Amanda Hayes' 2009 Dodge Durango and that it could bolster their defense that it was Hayes' husband, Grant Hayes, who killed Laura Ackerson on July 13, 2011.

The 27-year-old's dismembered remains were found 11 days later in a creek in Richmond, Texas, near the home of Amanda Hayes' sister.

The Hayeses were arrested July 25, 2011, and Grant Hayes was found guilty of Ackerson's murder in September.

Any involvement Amanda Hayes might have had, her defense has said in court documents, was while she was under duress and fearful for her life.

"The 'knife' that was found in the Dodge Durango by the Raleigh Police Department appears to be yet further evidence that the defendant's husband, (Grant Hayes), was prepared to kill the defendant and their children while they (were) in the Dodge Durango …" Gaskins wrote in Monday's motion.

He does not indicate what kind of knife was found, saying the state has not yet provided the defense with any other information.

Gaskins goes on to say that Grant Hayes had threatened to kill Amanda Hayes and their children – two young sons he had with Ackerson and a 1-month-old daughter he had with Amanda Hayes – with a machete.

Grant Hayes also threatened his wife in a letter he wrote to her while they were both in jail, Gaskins says in the motion.

Superior Court Judge Paul Ridgeway granted the motion for testing, as well as testing of a biohazard suit and pair of rubber gloves also found recently in the SUV, which has been in police custody since the Hayeses were arrested.

Prosecutors say that the suit and gloves belonged to Raleigh police investigators who wore the items to keep from contaminating the vehicle and were left as part of normal procedure.

Amanda Hayes, who is also accused of accessory after the fact to murder, goes to trial the week of Jan. 20, and if convicted of first-degree murder, faces life in prison without the possibility of parole.

The state hasn't said how she was involved in Ackerson's death but has indicated that Amanda Hayes and her husband were equally culpable of the crime.

During his trial, Grant Hayes' defense attorneys argued Amanda Hayes killed Ackerson during an argument and that he was guilty only of trying to protect her by covering up the crime.

Prosecutors say Grant Hayes killed Ackerson, in part, because of a bitter custody battle over their sons.

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  • misschris234 Dec 24, 2013

    This is much different than the boy having the gun and shooting himself. This was a murder, a very gruesome murder... you can bet there was a thorough search that would have found a knife in the center console. Something doesn't smell right here. All of the sudden there are things coming up in the Durango... I think during the Hayes trial it became clear that both of them committed this heinous, violent act.

  • DontVote4LiarsCheatsOrThieves Dec 24, 2013

    lessismore - "And the defense wants this knife found in their clients car introduced into evidence? Why?"

    Because this knife is more capable of dismemberment than an old butter knife would be. That makes it a possible cause of murder. Don't you think?

  • DontVote4LiarsCheatsOrThieves Dec 24, 2013

    Justic4All - "Each and every high profile case has been tainted by their apparent short coming of doing this. At their level of responsibility and supposed professionalism, to me they continuously prove themselves incapable of trust to uncover or expose all evidence."

    Perhaps!

    Or perhaps the knife wasn't there when the authorities searched it. Perhaps someone has put it there recently, to muddy up the case.

  • caniacfan Dec 24, 2013

    You gotta love some of these defense attorneys. This is the same Johnny Gaskins that was lauded by his peers for getting cop killer Kwame Mays life in prison instead of the death penalty. It's also the same Johnny Gaskins who was found guilty himself in Federal Court back in 2009/2010 for structuring bank deposits to avoid reporting. How can you trust anything he says or does now???

  • HANS FOR PRESIDENT!!!!! JK Dec 24, 2013

    And the defense wants this knife found in their clients car introduced into evidence? Why?

    lessismore
    ----------------------------------

    They could find all kinds of MY stuff in my wife's car, and vice versa. They must believe they can prove it's his or he was last to touch it

  • HANS FOR PRESIDENT!!!!! JK Dec 24, 2013

    Justic4All - "PaaLeeease explain how it was missed during a routine search, much less a capital murder investigation search."

    Good question!

    I guess the same way the teen boy's pistol was missed when the cop cuffed him and put him in the squad car, which later led to the kid shooting himself.

    DontVote4LiarsCheatsOrThieves
    ====================================

    Where in the article does it say they JUST found it??? It only says it was found. Could have been they same day they were arrested. They are just now asking for access to it. And @lessismore, they must think the can prove it was is knife and not hers, maybe with fingerprints or something. They have a good reason or they wouldn't be asking

  • miseem Dec 24, 2013

    A knife capable of killing or even dismembering someone hidden in the center console?Justic4All.

    You got an inside line to the investigation? I see nothing in this article that describes anything other than a "knife". For all anyone knows from this, it could range from a plastic knife from KFC to a machete. Yet, you know for a fact it could be used to dismember someone? And short of completely disassembling the interior of a car, there are lots of places to hide a small item. Consoles,in particular, have lots of crevices and openings that can be used to hide (or lose) things. Just hard to get them out without removing the console itself. Besides, once police have enough evidence to convince a DA, and presumably a jury, of guilt, they generally stop searching. Otherwise, they would have to strip house walls to the studs and a car to the frame. Of course, they have nothing better to do except satisfy all these armchair detectives on every case they work, right?

  • scubagirl2 Dec 24, 2013

    She's GUILTY!!! knife or no knife!! defense is grasping at straws, which is their job BUT.....

  • lessismore Dec 23, 2013

    And the defense wants this knife found in their clients car introduced into evidence? Why?

  • DontVote4LiarsCheatsOrThieves Dec 23, 2013

    Justic4All - "PaaLeeease explain how it was missed during a routine search, much less a capital murder investigation search."

    Good question!

    I guess the same way the teen boy's pistol was missed when the cop cuffed him and put him in the squad car, which later led to the kid shooting himself.

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