New trial sought in Raleigh dismemberment murder
Posted August 16, 2016 7:30 p.m. EDT
Updated August 16, 2016 10:16 p.m. EDT
Raleigh, N.C. — Attorneys for a Raleigh man convicted in the 2011 death of his ex-girlfriend are seeking a new trial for him.
Grant Ruffin Hayes was convicted on a charge of first-degree murder in the death of Laura Jean Ackerson. Over the course of the grisly three-week murder trial in 2013, 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.
Attorneys state that Hayes received an unfair trial due to prosecutorial misconduct and ineffective assistance of counsel.
“Had his counsel adequately investigated and fought his case, there is a reasonable probability that the jury would have found reasonable doubt in his case,” the motion for appropriate relief said.
The motion states that Hayes’ constitutional right to due process was violated by the state when his incoming and outgoing mail was intercepted by staff at the Wake County Detention Center and copies were provided to the prosecution. Hayes believes some of the mail seized included letters discussing trial strategy, attorneys said.
“Though both prosecutors denied reviewing the letters once they were determined to be legal mail, it is unclear if others in the chain of custody read the mail, and if so, whether they took any actions based on what they read,” the motion states.
Attorneys assert that his right to a fair trial was further violated by the prosecution’s use of witnesses who testified to things they knew were false.
The motion states that witnesses gave statements under oath about the relationship between Hayes and Ackerson that were inconsistent with Ackerson’s own account of events before she died.
Attorneys claim that witnesses falsely portrayed Hayes as abusive and stated that Ackerson was in fear of her ex-boyfriend. In the motion, attorneys assert that the defense had evidence to counter the testimony but failed to do so.