Local News

Raleigh woman pleads not guilty in death of husband's ex

Posted November 5, 2013 1:44 p.m. EST

Amanda Hayes, accused of murder and accessory after the fact to murder in the July 13, 2011, death of Laura Ackerson, speaks to her attorney Rosemary Godwin during a pre-trial hearing on Nov. 5, 2013, at the Wake County Justice Center in Raleigh.

— A Raleigh woman implicated along with her husband in the death two years ago of his ex-girlfriend pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges of murder and accessory after the fact to murder in the case.

Amanda Perry Hayes, 41, was formally arraigned in a Wake County courtroom during a hearing regarding her upcoming trial in the July 13, 2011, death of Laura Jean Ackerson, 27, of Kinston.

Hayes' husband, Grant Ruffin Hayes, 34, was convicted of the crime in September and is serving life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Jury selection in Amanda Hayes' trial is set for Jan. 20.

Defense attorney Johnny Gaskins denies the murder charge against Amanda Hayes, saying evidence at her husband's trial "clearly exonerates" her.

Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens, however, said that was a question for a jury to decide.

Witnesses testified in Grant Hayes' case that he and Ackerson were involved in a custody dispute over their two young sons and that he lured her to his apartment, killed her, cut up her body and disposed of the remains in a creek near the Texas home of Amanda Hayes' sister.

Defense attorneys for Grant Hayes contended that Amanda Hayes actually killed Ackerson during an argument and that their client only helped cover up the crime.

Amanda Hayes' attorneys, however, have suggested in court documents that their client 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 1-month-old daughter.

But the state has said that both of the Hayeses were equally culpable in the crime.

Although they did not provide details of Amanda Hayes' involvement during Grant Hayes' trial, prosecutors played security video of her dumping cartons of acid at the end of a rural street in Texas.

Grant Hayes had been recorded on security video purchasing the chemical, which prosecutors contended was initially used to try to destroy Ackerson's remains.

Medical examiners were never able to determine exactly how Ackerson died.