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Grant Hayes could testify in wife's murder trial

Grant Hayes, convicted of murder and serving a life sentence, may take the stand to prevent his wife from the same fate.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — A man convicted of murder and serving a life sentence may take the stand to prevent his wife from the same fate.

Amanda Perry Hayes, 41, and her husband, Grant Ruffin Hayes, were both charged with first-degree murder in the July 2011 death of Laura Jean Ackerson, then 27, who was Grant Hayes' ex-girlfriend and the mother of his two sons. Amanda Hayes also faces a charge of accessory after the fact of murder.

Her trial is scheduled to begin with jury selection Jan. 21, and her lawyers told a judge Friday that they are considering called Grant Hayes as a witness.

Amanda Hayes' attorney, Johnny Gaskins, said he plans to prove Grant Hayes alone killed Ackerson and that his wife was living in fear of him. Gaskins has said a knife found in the Hayeses' SUV will further bolster his argument.

A test by the State Bureau of Investigation didn't find any blood on the knife, but Gaskins told the court he will have the knife tested by a North Carolina State University anthropologist to see if it was used in Ackerson's murder.

Gaskins has filed several motions indicating that Amanda Hayes was under duress and participated in the crime because she feared for her life as well as the lives of Ackerson's sons and her own infant daughter.

Investigators say Ackerson was visiting the Hayeses on July 13, 2011, before her disappearance. Her remains were found 11 days later in a creek near the Richmond, Texas, home of Amanda Hayes' sister.

Grant Hayes was convicted of first-degree murder in September and is serving life in prison without the possibility of parole. During his trial, his defense team pointed the finger at Amanda Hayes as the murderer.

Gaskins also asked Friday to see the sealed criminal file on another expected witness, Sherrilee Robinson, who shared a Wake County jail cell with his client. He said he needs to see if Robinson cut a deal on a federal charge from 2000 in exchange for her testimony, a condition that would bring her credibility into question.Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens denied that request, saying Robinson's record from more than a decade ago wasn't likely to be relevant to Hayes' defense.

Grant Hayes has appealed his conviction and, if called to testify for his wife, it is likely he would take the Fifth to avoid damaging his chances for that appeal.


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