Local News

Suspect cites coercion by husband in Kinston woman's killing

Posted April 11, 2013

Amanda Hayes appears in a Wake County courtroom March 1, 2013, with her husband, Grant Hayes. The couple will be tried together for the murder of Grant's ex-girlfriend, Laura Jean Ackerson.

— A Wake County Superior Court judge expressed concern Thursday about trying a married Raleigh couple together in their upcoming first-degree murder trial after the wife's defense attorney filed nearly three dozen pre-trial motions this week.

Grant Ruffin Hayes, 33, and Amanda Perry Hayes, 41, are charged with first-degree murder in the July 2011 death of Laura Jean Ackerson, Grant Hayes' ex-girlfriend and the mother of two of his children.

Prosecutors have not publicly spoken of a motive, saying in court only that Ackerson's death was the result of domestic violence and that there is a "tremendous amount" of evidence against Grant Hayes. Her family members, however, have said the two were in a custody battle over the children.

Many of the April 8 motions filed by Amanda Hayes' attorney, Rosemary Godwin, are routine, but some offer hints at possible defense strategies.

Godwin, asks in one motion that her client be allowed to sit at a separate table when the trial begins May 20. Godwin claims Grant Hayes threatened to kill his wife in a letter he wrote to her from the Wake County jail.

The motion does not go into further detail about the letter, but it does state that the defendants "have adversarial defenses."

Grant Hayes Judge to revisit joint murder trial for Raleigh couple

Another document puts the state on notice that Godwin intends to offer evidence that Ackerson's death was an accident. It provides no other details.

Godwin says in other motions that Amanda Hayes has an alibi for the time of Ackerson's death and that she was coerced into helping dispose of the body because she was worried Grant Hayes would kill her, her daughter and his two sons. One motion alleges that Grant Hayes carried a machete with him when they disposed of the body and that Amanda Hayes was afraid he would use it as a weapon against her if she refused to cooperate.

Authorities in Richmond, Texas, about 60 miles south of Houston, found Ackerson's remains on July 24, 2011, in a creek near the home of Amanda Hayes' sister.

Medical examiners aren't sure how she died. They found injuries that suggested a sharp force injury to her neck, but there were also signs that someone tried to strangle her.

In another motion, Godwin asks for the identity of an anonymous caller to Crime Stoppers reporting that Grant Hayes had told him "that he chokes people" and "that he killed a man when he was younger but was never caught."

Judge Donald Stephens has scheduled a hearing for April 22 to revisit the matter because of the duress claims.

In February, he asked attorneys for both defendants to discuss their defense strategies and to decide whether trying the couple together would be detrimental to their clients.

He granted the state's request for the joint trial in March after defense attorneys raised no objections, but they agreed to revisit the matter if any problems were to arise.

Grant Hayes' attorney, Jeff Cutler, told WRAL News Thursday afternoon that Amanda Hayes' statements regarding his client call into serious question whether they can be tried together.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • Scubagirl Apr 12, 2013

    So did she give up HER brain?!?!?! Old enough to know better.....

  • Crystal Apr 12, 2013

    To have been an aquaintance, my opinion is that she is as complacient as he is, if not more so. I think that whatever happened, she was instrumental in it. I don't think she feared for her life. But these are just that, opinions.

  • Crystal Apr 12, 2013


  • showard Apr 12, 2013

    Now you are afraid of your husband because you think he will kill you of course he will but you helped and you even put your family at risk but you wanted him so badly you didn't care what type of person he is so now you don't want to sit by him get over there and get as close as you did before you got caught.

  • kimisufu Apr 12, 2013

    I don't buy it. She's been in jail long enough to concoct this story. I think they are equally guilty. This was all planned out over some pillow talk.

  • Alexia.1 Apr 11, 2013

    "She looks evil..." --bkn02

    Seriously? You'd make your decision based on this?

    Our judicial system has no hope...

  • ICTrue Apr 11, 2013

    It has to be all the man's fault. There is no way that some woman could have thought to do something like that without a man telling her to. They should just appologize and let her go.

  • Lamborghini Mercy Apr 11, 2013

    So now she's playing the innocent role? A little too late for that one. Tossed both of them in jail and throw away the key.

  • bkn02 Apr 11, 2013

    I have to agree with pburroughs previous post. She looks evil and I am sure she was aware of his plan to kill his EX. She probably gave him the idea and now after sitting in jail with other criminals she has came up with the idea of portraying herself to be a victim so people will feel sorry for her and let her off easy. I would not be surprised if she claims he abused her. She is guilty by association and knowledge of the crime. And I believe I read that she was the one who rented the Uhaul and purchased the storage containers that the body was transported in. So I guess she just did not know what she was buying the storage containers or renting the Uhaul for. Had the body never been found she would not be claiming to be afraid for her life she would still be with her husband living happy.

  • JAT Apr 11, 2013

    You cannot release the identity of a Crime Stoppers caller. If you do, they might as well shut down the program.