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Jury finds Grant Hayes guilty of ex-girlfriend's grisly murder

Posted September 16, 2013

— A jury of four men and eight women deliberated for less than two hours Monday morning before finding a Raleigh man guilty of first-degree murder in the death of his ex-girlfriend and the mother of his two sons.

Laura Ackerson Full coverage: Laura Ackerson murder case

"I think that a jury verdict in a case like this, in an hour and a half, probably speaks louder than anything anyone could say about this case," Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens said prior to sentencing Grant Ruffin Hayes, 34, who was convicted in the July 13, 2011, killing of Laura Jean Ackerson.

Jurors began deciding the case shortly before 10 a.m. and notified the court bailiff shortly before 11:30 a.m. that they had reached a verdict.

Over the course of the grisly three-week murder trial, nearly 50 witnesses testified that Hayes, embroiled in a bitter custody dispute with Ackerson, lured her to his northwest Raleigh apartment, killed her and then disposed of her dismembered body in a Texas creek.

Karen Berry Full video: Grant Hayes murder trial video

Hayes, who often smiled and laughed throughout the trial, sat expressionless as Stephens read the jury's verdict and offered no comment to the court. He was then taken from the room to begin serving a life prison sentence without the possibility of parole.

"Obviously, it's just a despicable, wretched crime, and we're pleased that the jury looked at all the evidence and saw the truth in what happened," Wake County Assistant District Attorney Boz Zellinger said after the verdict.

During more than three hours of closing arguments Friday, Zellinger told jurors that Hayes got Ackerson to his home to talk about the custody fight. Once there, he killed her, cut her up, put her in several coolers and drove to Richmond, Texas, where he dumped her remains near the home of his wife's sister.

"He didn't just dispose of her body. He engraved his hate by cutting off her head," Zellinger said Friday. "That dismemberment means more than just disposing of the body. It's extreme abhorrence of the person he killed."

Ackerson's father, Rodger Ackerson, said he was relieved Hayes was found guilty.

Laura Ackerson Ex-boyfriend found guilty in Kinston mom's murder

"This man had a wife, three kids and a dead body in his apartment for three days," he said. "Neither one of them called the police. I'm not surprised at that verdict at all."

Hayes' attorneys, who said they were disappointed by the jury's decision, said their client's wife, Amanda Hayes, 41, confessed to killing Ackerson and that he is only guilty of trying to help her cover up the crime – "a terrible thing" but not murder.

Amanda Hayes is also charged in the case and is expected to go to trial in January.

Grant Hayes Grant Hayes guilty verdict

"I never know what happens in (the jury room)," defense attorney Will Durham said. "All I know is that Mr. Hayes has always maintained his innocence, continues to maintain his innocence, and we'll continue seeking whatever relief we can get. We were disappointed with the verdict."

Security videos showed Hayes on shopping trips to a Raleigh Walmart, where he bought a saw that investigators say was used to dismember Ackerson. Footage from a Home Depot in Texas showed him buying acid that the state argued was poured on her severed head before Hayes dumped it in the creek.

Some of the state's strongest evidence supporting their argument was from a former inmate who said Hayes told him – while at the Wake County Detention Center in late July 2011 – that he and his wife subdued and strangled Ackerson.

The jury on Thursday also heard a song, "Broomstick Killer," that Hayes recorded talking about killing his "babies' momma" – a recording the Durham contended was a parody, albeit not a funny one, written to "blow off steam."

Hayes, however, sat rocking to the beat of the music as the lyrics blared in the courtroom:

"My babies' momma, don't talk to me. Don't want your drama. I got two kids by you. I can't take any more from you."

It went on: "I put a price tag on your head. You must have told your attorney I got intentions on killing you."

157 Comments

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  • misschris234 Sep 17, 5:13 p.m.

    tigresspen, and don't forget the pictures of Amanda dumping the acid. They have plenty on evidence on Amanda. She wanted to adopt those boys. I think this case proved that they were both in on everything, before and after.

  • 678devilish Sep 17, 1:23 p.m.

    Sweet words. She will get the same. She had to be shaking right now and scared. GUILTY for both of them in this hideous murder.

  • Obamacare for everyone Sep 17, 12:39 p.m.

    deyday, give me a break. You know how violent they can be. I can assure you, Grant killed Laura himself.

  • add-MY2cents Sep 17, 12:33 p.m.

    Wondering if the other inmates had a 'welcome party' for him last night at his new residence? One can only hope!

    I am sure the lifers are going to give him an appropriate welcome!!!

  • deyday Sep 17, 12:25 p.m.

    Racial issues? it's about the murder of a human being for gods sake. He is black , his babies mama is white as is his wife so the new white wife kills the other white, baby mama. I'm so sorry for those children lost of their mother but their daddy help to try and conceal the horrible deed.

  • brownbean Sep 17, 11:57 a.m.

    Wondering if the other inmates had a 'welcome party' for him last night at his new residence? One can only hope!

  • Barely Sep 17, 11:05 a.m.

    Ha ha ha! Indeed. Whoever made that comment is...well, we all know.... ! NAACP has no place in a case when someone clearly had it out for someone and GOT CONVICTED FOR CUTTING THEM UP.
    sssteph42

    Actually, you would be surprised. The NAACP has a long history of getting involved in trials most people would think were clear cut.

  • OpenM1nd Sep 17, 10:45 a.m.

    This crime is especially grisly. Was the death penalty even pursued? Or are there too many racial implications for doing so because the victim happens to be white?

  • bakerbillwade Sep 17, 10:40 a.m.

    Rot in prison. Maybe your smug attitude will serve you well there. Hope that grin gets wiped off your face. Plenty of time to write and record more of your rap music.

  • sssteph42 Sep 17, 9:49 a.m.

    "That would be innocence and no you won't. Thanks for playing though."

    Ha ha ha! Indeed. Whoever made that comment is...well, we all know....
    ! NAACP has no place in a case when someone clearly had it out for someone and GOT CONVICTED FOR CUTTING THEM UP.

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