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Raleigh couple will be tried together in murder case

Posted March 1, 2013

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— A Wake County Superior Court judge on Friday granted the state’s request to try a Raleigh married couple together in the 2011 murder of the husband’s ex-girlfriend.

Grant Ruffin Hayes, 33, and Amanda Perry Hayes, 40, are both charged with first-degree murder in the death of Laura Jean Ackerson, who was the mother of Grant’s two children.

The Kinston woman’s remains were found July 24, 2011, in a creek in Richmond, Texas – about 60 miles south of Houston – where Amanda Hayes' sister lives.

The couple appeared before Chief Resident Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens for a 10 a.m. hearing and sat at the same table together with their separate attorneys.

Neither attorney objected to the state’s request to try their clients together, citing efficiency and cost savings to taxpayers. However, they said they would ask the court to sever the joined case if any problems should arise.

Stephens agreed.

"At this point, I think the state’s position is appropriate,” he said. “Frankly, I think that the interest of justice would be best served if both persons charged with the same offense be charged at the same time by the same jury.”

The trial is set for May 20.

In a hearing before Stephens last month, Assistant District Attorney Boz Zellinger characterized the case as one of domestic violence. Family members, however, have said Grant Hayes and Ackerson, 27, had been involved in a contentious child custody battle.

Zellinger told Stephens that there was a "tremendous amount" of evidence against Grant Hayes and that Amanda Hayes confided in her sister in Texas that she helped kill Ackerson and was covering for him.

How Ackerson died is unclear. Medical examiners found injuries that suggested a sharp force injury to her neck, but there were also signs that someone tried to strangle her.

Texas authorities who found Ackerson's body and later turned the case over to Raleigh police, say they believe the Hayeses killed Ackerson, cut up her body and carried it in coolers to Texas, where they disposed of her remains in the creek.
 

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  • ThaTruth4 Mar 4, 2013

    Wow, so now those kids don't have a mother, father nor a stepmom?!?! How sad is this story. I pray the kids are put w/ loved ones that will sincerely care & get them the help they are gonna need. & I hope justice is served in the end w/ sick ppl that does these things.

  • hardycitrus Mar 1, 2013

    NC has an impressive record of getting murder conviction on nothing but circumstantial evidence, and sometimes not even that.

  • golorealist Mar 1, 2013

    "Also, notice that the state is going for a conviction against both of them, not trying to get one of them to cut a deal against the other. The state must have a very strong case to go for the two-fer." - hardycitrus

    all it takes is building a timeline and showing that the murder likely happened during a shorttime frame at the home when both of them were present, and then showing the two of them being involved in the trip to texas.

    there may be some physical evidence, i don't know. but without it, the case is pretty much a slam dunk case, even if it's based solely on circumstantial evidence.

  • hardycitrus Mar 1, 2013

    Also, notice that the state is going for a conviction against both of them, not trying to get one of them to cut a deal against the other. The state must have a very strong case to go for the two-fer.

  • golorealist Mar 1, 2013

    "They must have done something stupid like taken their cell phone with them to prove they were the ones hauling the body, or just left a bunch bloody power tools in the cellar."

    the body being found where it was is significant because of the proximity to amanda hayes' family. as far as the physical evidence you're looking for, they probably got some of that from grant and amanda's apartment. however, between the truck rental, coolers purchased in nc, coolers found in texas, the truck rental, laura's car found close to grant's apartment, the email where grant invited laura to his apartment the day she went missing, etc, there's probably enough circumstantial evidence to prove the case without any problems.

  • jmrado47 Mar 1, 2013

    Sounds like a classic death penalty case to me.

  • hardycitrus Mar 1, 2013

    Crossing state lines introduces jurisdictional problems (what state did the murder occur in?) and putting it in water means that DNA testing and most other forensics is a no go.

    They must have done something stupid like taken their cell phone with them to prove they were the ones hauling the body, or just left a bunch bloody power tools in the cellar.

  • golorealist Mar 1, 2013

    "a body carried across state lines and dumped in water is useless as evidence." - hardycitrus

    not sure why it's useless, especially considering the specific location it was dumped serves as pretty compelling circumstantial evidence. regardless, if you have followed the case, there is definitely a mountain of evidence against them.

  • hardycitrus Mar 1, 2013

    Wow they must have a mountain of other evidence against these two, because a body carried across state lines and dumped in water is useless as evidence.

  • Obamacare rises Mar 1, 2013

    sbr1963, they didn't have a father to begin with.

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