Emails offer glimpse into Ackerson's relationship with Amanda Hayes
Posted February 7, 2014
Raleigh, N.C. — A forensics computer analyst with the Raleigh Police Department found dozens of emails between Laura Ackerson and her ex-boyfriend and his wife, Amanda Hayes, on the slain 27-year-old's computer, giving jurors in Hayes' first-degree murder trial a closer look at a child custody fight between the three.
Courtney Last, on Thursday, guided the three men and nine women of the jury through months of messages leading up to and following Ackerson's July13, 2011, death that included her and Grant Hayes arguing about their two young sons, their different parenting styles and provisions of a temporary custody order, including phone calls with the boys and how to act around them.
There were also emails that touched on the relationship between Ackerson and Amanda Hayes.
"I would like to address the attitude you have toward me in front of my children, though. I understand that Grant III has probably told you that I am the worst person in the world, among whatever else was useful for him to say in the moment," Ackerson wrote in an email on Oct. 24, 2010.
She goes on:
"If you could please contain yourself in front of them, it would be appreciated. If you have something you would like to say to me, I totally understand and welcome it – just when they are not in earshot."
Amanda Hayes responded on Oct. 30, 2010:
"I'm not too sure what you're talking about at all. If there were ill feelings over the exchange last Sunday, they were not on this side of the family."
In a follow-up email in the same exchange, Amanda Hayes invited Ackerson to join the family for Thanksgiving.
"I think the boys would enjoy that. What do you say? Holidays are important, and these memories will be in their photo album. They don't have to know 'this' was happening."
Grant Hayes also sent at least two emails to Ackerson after her death. One was at 4:08 a.m. on July 15, 2011, asking her if she would like to keep the boys for a week, and another nine hours later asking her not to talk to him at the weekly custody exchange planned for later that day at a Wilson gas station.
"I mean, seriously, we are trying to reach a settlement and you go dark on me after agreeing to, shall I say, ‘certain terms,’" Grant Hayes wrote. "Yes, REAL F----D UP."
"I have NOTHING more to say to you until I hear from your attorney," he added.
Jurors also saw a security video from the gas station on July 15, 2011, in which Grant Hayes waited with the boys for more than an hour for Ackerson to arrive.
But Wake County prosecutors say she was already dead after the Hayeses killed her and dismembered her body in their Raleigh apartment two days earlier.
Still, a crime scene analyst testified Thursday, investigators found no blood evidence in the apartment – only a tiny spot that possibly could have been blood on a mattress cover that was sent for further testing.
Shannon Quick, with the City-County Bureau of Identification, however, said bleach could have eliminated any blood evidence.
Earlier in her testimony, she noted a large bleach stain on some carpet in the apartment, and a Raleigh police detective, earlier this week, testified that investigators also recovered an empty bleach container from the Hayeses' trash.
What was found in the apartment, however, was a handwritten note, dated July 13, 2011, by both Ackerson and Grant Hayes in which it appeared as if Ackerson consented to giving up the custody fight in exchange for $25,000.
Lindsey Dyn, a forensic document analyst with the FBI, said the handwriting matched a sample of Grant Hayes' writing and writing from Ackerson's diary, but she couldn’t determine if Ackerson had actually signed and dated the note.
Those who knew Ackerson, however, have testified that she would never have given up the custody fight and that she was optimistic that she would get full custody at a hearing that had been scheduled for August 2011.