Verdict watch continues Wednesday in Amanda Hayes murder trial
Posted February 18, 2014
Raleigh, N.C. — A Wake County jury deliberated for more than six hours Tuesday without reaching a verdict in the trial of a Raleigh woman accused of killing her husband's ex-girlfriend's and dumping her remains in a Texas creek nearly three years ago.
Amanda Hayes, 41, faces is charged with first-degree murder and accessory after the fact to first-degree murder in the Ackerson's July 13, 2011, death.
Wake County prosecutors, say she hated Ackerson – the mother of her husband Grant Hayes' two young sons – because of a bitter child custody dispute and that the couple wanted to "erase" her from their lives.
Defense attorneys, however, argued that it was Grant Hayes who killed Ackerson and then hid the crime from his wife until he needed her help disposing of the body.
She only helped, they say, because she was under duress.
The 12 jurors – three men and nine women – spent most of Tuesday behind closed doors, taking only an hour from deliberations for a lunch break and then a mid-afternoon break for about 20 minutes.
They asked to see – and were granted access to – Ackerson's diary and notebooks in which she recorded her interactions and phone calls with the Hayeses. They also saw a handwritten note between her and Grant Hayes in which she purportedly agreed to give up the custody fight for $25,000.
Witnesses testified that Ackerson never would have agreed to such a custody deal, and although a handwriting expert verified that the body of the note was in Ackerson's handwriting, the expert couldn't reach a conclusion about the authenticity of the signature.
Another item of interest for the jury: a Skil reciprocating saw identical to the one the state says Grant Hayes bought at a Walmart hours after Ackerson's death.
But Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens only allowed them to view it from the jury box and would not allow for it to be turn on, since neither the prosecution nor defense did so during the trial's evidence phase.
The jury has six potential verdicts to consider.
On the charge of murder, it can consider guilty verdicts of first-degree or second-degree murder, as well as not guilty.
If the jury finds Amanda Hayes not guilty of murder, it must then consider accessory after the fact to murder in either the first-degree or second-degree. It can also consider not guilty.
The jury received the case at 4 p.m. Monday and deliberated for about an hour and 15 minutes.
By 10 a.m., Tuesday – after 30 minutes – the jury had already deliberated longer than the four men and eight women in Grant Hayes' murder trial last fall.
In September, a jury found him guilty in less than two hours of first-degree murder.
Serving a life sentence at Pasquotank Correctional Institution in Elizabeth City, he has maintained that his wife accidentally killed Ackerson during an argument and that the only thing he did wrong was help with the cover-up because he loved her and wanted to protect her.