Local News

Fearful Amanda Hayes wanted to leave husband, she says

Posted February 12, 2014
Updated February 14, 2014

Wake County Assistant District Attorney Becky Holt on Feb. 12, 2014, cross-examines Amanda Hayes, on trial for first-degree murder in the July 13, 2011, death of Laura Ackerson. (Chad Flowers/WRAL)

— Days after Amanda Hayes says she and her husband took an evening boat ride in the Texas creek where Laura Ackerson's dismembered remains were found in July 2011, the 41-year-old mother, on trial for murder, said she had hoped to escape her husband, who had threatened her life and had become increasingly paranoid in the days after Ackerson's death.

Amanda Hayes Amanda Hayes murder trial testimony (Day 12)

"I kept trying to get ahold of Sha and to get Lily with her," Hayes said Tuesday from the witness stand, referring to her daughters, who were 22 years old and 1 month old at the time. "My intention was to leave with Sha and Lily. That was my intention – to get away."

But Hayes, who had been in Kinston with her husband at his parents' home, said she couldn't reach her adult daughter in Raleigh and had no means to get away. The SUV she shared with Grant Hayes was their only vehicle, and he had kept the keys, she said.

Raleigh police arrested the pair early on July 25, 2011, after Texas authorities found Ackerson's torso and part of her leg in the creek across the street from the home of Amanda Hayes' sister, Karen Berry.

Grant Hayes went to trial last year and was found guilty in September after a jury deliberated for less than an hour. Amanda Hayes is days away from learning her fate in the crime.

Defense attorney Johnny Gaskins says his client didn't know Ackerson had died during a visit to the Hayeses' Raleigh apartment on July 13, 2011, and that Grant Hayes concealed Ackerson's death by hiding her body in Kinston.

Amanda Hayes didn't find out, Gaskins says, until Grant Hayes threatened her at Berry's home in Texas if she didn't help get rid of the body.

The defense indicated Wednesday it plans to call at least one other witness to testify before resting its case.

Wake County prosecutors, who are expected to call one rebuttal witness before closing arguments, say Amanda Hayes was resentful of and angry at Ackerson because of a bitter dispute between Ackerson and Grant Hayes over their 2- and 3-year-old sons.

Amanda Hayes, they say, also admitted to Berry that she was the cause of Ackerson's death.

But Amanda Hayes said Wednesday that – despite "a couple of different run-ins" – she and Ackerson got along when they interacted.

But Grant Hayes got upset when she was nice to Ackerson, she said, and he tried to keep them from talking, because it made it appear as if he were the problem in the legal fight over the children.

"I honestly was feeling sorry for Laura, because it appeared to me that she didn't really have a support system," Amanda Hayes said, adding that everything she knew about Ackerson she had learned from her husband.

At one point in the year prior to the alleged crime, Ackerson had also sent Amanda Hayes a thank you card for being "a positive force in the universe and an extreme blessing to my family."

As the custody fight escalated, it had placed an emotional and financial toll on all involved, Amanda Hayes added, and she tried to talk her husband into giving Ackerson custody.

"It had been a conversation of ours many times throughout that year," she said.

Grant Hayes, she said, was considering the possibility.

On July 13, 2011, however, Amanda Hayes admitted, she got upset after learning that he offered Ackerson $25,000 to give up the custody fight. She said they didn't have the money, noting they were broke and were being evicted from their apartment.

"I was upset at both of them. I just turned around and walked off," Amanda Hayes said. "I just wanted out of there. I didn't want to be around either of them."

That's why she ignored Ackerson when she wanted to hold Lily, Amanda Hayes said. That upset Ackerson, who followed Amanda Hayes through the apartment, tripping on a rug and bumping into her.

"Grant saw the whole thing, and he came to her, and he just grabbed her to pull her back," Amanda Hayes said.

They fell and knocked over a chair, she added, but she went on with the baby into the bedroom.

As for Ackerson –

"I never heard her. I never saw her again," Amanda Hayes said. "Ever."



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  • joybanger Feb 13, 2014

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    The prosecutor didn't ask her about LOTS of things. There were so many inconsistencies, yet they just let her off the hook. Frustrating!

  • mary2214 Feb 13, 2014

    Why doesn't the prosecutor ask Amanda about seeing Laura's car in the parking lot when she came back from Chick fil a and when she went into the house, Grant told her Laura had felt better and left? What is the explanation for the car being there? Also doesn't it seem odd that all the time she was in Texas she never asked Grant what he was doing, not even when they were on their way to home depot?

  • Serendipity5 Feb 12, 2014

    Super Hans
    I disagree with you! This is not an abused woman. She knew exactly what was going on. Please, give me a break!

  • busyb97 Feb 12, 2014

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    Sorry. There are too many resources for abused women...if she truly wanted to get away from him, she would have and could have. In fact, if he was that bad, she should have joined with Ackerson to go AGAINST HIM for the child custody issues...for both of them, and get out of dodge!

    But no. She didn't. This is just a defense argument to avoid responsibility.

  • Serendipity5 Feb 12, 2014

    Please, this woman is as guilty as Grant Hayes. I wonder if the jury is as tired of her theatrics as I am.

  • Forthe Newssite Feb 12, 2014
    user avatar

    Then she should have left instead of staying and having his child

  • monami Feb 12, 2014

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    Yeah, what's wrong is that her pants are on fire because she's lying!. She wanted Laura gone and helped to make sure that goal was accomplished.

  • appstate1996 Feb 12, 2014

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    They were in the UHaul...not car.

  • joybanger Feb 12, 2014

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    But there was no evidence she was ever abused. By her own admission, Grant Hayes was never adversarial or threatening toward her until they arrived in Texas. I thought she did a great job on direct, but after cross-examination, I feel you have to completely forsake logic to believe she didn't have previous knowledge of what was going on. Perhaps she just decided to willfully ignore what Grant was doing; either way, she needs to be held accountable for her actions/inactions after-the-fact.

  • Obamacare for America Feb 12, 2014

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    Seriously.....what did she think was in all of those coolers, watermelons?