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  1. #11
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    Grant Hayes jury selection continues

    Prosecutors and defense attorneys continue to pick jurors Tuesday in the trial of a Raleigh man accused of murdering the mother of his two children and cutting up her body.

    The trial of Grant Hayes - aka Grant Haze - is expected to last several weeks.

    Hayes and his current wife Amanda are accused of killing 27-year-old Laura Ackerson in 2011, dismembering her body, and then putting the parts in coolers for a cross-country drive to Texas.

    Grant Hayes and his wife are being tried separately.

    Prosecutors say Ackerson's remains were dumped in a creek near Amanda Hayes' sister's house. Police divers recovered the body parts in Oyster Creek near Skinner Lane in Richmond, Texas in July 2011.

    Ackerson was the mother of Grant Hayes' two oldest children and she had lost custody of them to Hayes and his wife, who also had a newborn baby with Hayes. Ackerson was fighting in court to get her kids back when she was killed.

    Grant Hayes was a local musician in Raleigh.

    Prosecutors said he legally changed the spelling of his last name from Hayes to Haze, so they now refer to him as "Grant Haze, aka Grant Hayes."

    So far, 12 jurors have been picked by the prosecution. If the defense strikes any of the jurors already picked by the prosecution, and that is likely, then the process of picking those replacements will begin again.

    http://abclocal.go.com/wtvd/story?se...cal&id=9219428
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  2. #12
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    Raleigh man's defense blames wife for ex-girlfriend's murder

    A Raleigh man on trial for the grisly murder of his ex-girlfriend and the mother of his two sons was involved in a bitter child custody dispute that drove him and his wife to plan and carry out her death in an effort to rid her from their lives, Wake County prosecutors said Thursday.

    But defense attorneys for Grant Ruffin Hayes said it was his wife, Amanda Hayes, who killed Laura Jean Ackerson at the Hayeses' northwest Raleigh apartment on the evening of July 13, 2011, and then took charge of the situation to hide evidence of the unplanned attack.

    Amanda Hayes, 41, is also charged in the crime and is scheduled to go to trial in January.

    "This case is about a man covering up his wife's actions," attorney Will Durham told the jury of eight women and four men during opening statements in his client's first-degree murder trial. "Amanda Hayes killed Laura Ackerson during a fight. It wasn't something that was planned."

    "The evidence will show that Amanda Hayes was extremely resentful of Laura Ackerson," he added.

    Grant Hayes, 34, made "terrible decisions," Durham said, by going out and buying a saw and other supplies but said that he only helped dispose of Ackerson’s body.

    "It's a horrible thing, but it's not murder, and the evidence will show that Grant Hayes is not guilty of murder," Durham said.

    Ackerson's head, torso and a leg were found July 24, 2011, 1,200 miles from Raleigh in a creek across the street from the home of Amanda Hayes' sister in Richmond, Texas – about 60 miles south of Houston, Wake County Assistant District Attorney Boz Zellinger told jurors.

    "This isn't just a case about a dismemberment. This isn't just a case about a custody dispute," Zellinger said. "This is a case about the hate that leads to dismemberment. This is a case about the hate that came from that custody dispute."

    The Hayeses, Zellinger said, wanted to "obliterate" Ackerson and didn't want her having any part in the lives of her 2- and 3-year-old sons.

    "This is a case that is so calculated, so malignant and so destructive that Laura Ackerson disappears off the face of the earth for 11 days," Zellinger said.

    Hours after Grant Hayes invited Ackerson to his apartment, the state contends, he was in a Raleigh Walmart near his home buying a plastic tarp, a saw, blades and other items.

    While police were launching their investigation into Ackerson's disappearance, Hayes, his wife, sons and baby daughter arrived in Texas with Ackerson's remains in coolers.

    As police found Ackerson's car in the parking lot of an apartment complex next to where the Hayeses lived, "Grant and Amanda are taking a boat trip with those coolers," Zellinger said.

    But Durham said his client's was afraid to call police because no one would believe that Ackerson's death wasn't intentional.

    She had arrived for a mid-week visit with her boys at the Hayeses' home, during which she and the defendant agreed in a handwritten note that he would get full custody of the children in exchange for $25,000, Durham said.

    Grant Hayes left his wife alone with Ackerson while he went to get his sons and then, "something happened," Durham said. "We don't know what."

    But Ackerson's business partner, Chevon Mathes, and best friend Heidi Schumacher, both testified Thursday afternoon that Ackerson's top priority was her boys and that she was hopeful that she would gain full custody of them at a hearing set for August 2011.

    "Laura loved her children more than anything, and it showed in every action that she took," Schumacher said.

    They also said that Ackerson didn't trust Grant Hayes and expressed to them on numerous occasions concerns for her safety.

    "She told me that she feared for her life," Mathes said. "She told me she didn't know what Grant was capable of, and if anything ever happened to her, Grant did it."

    Ackerson, they both said, would never have gone to his apartment.

    "The only reason I could think of (was) if he asked her to come because he was going to give her custody of the kids," Schumacher said. "That's the only reason I could think of."

    It wasn't until July 18, 2011, when Mathes called Schumacher, that she learned that Ackerson was missing.

    "I fell to my knees and started bawling," Schumacher said. "They told me that Laura was missing and asked for any information that I might have. I knew she wasn't missing."

    http://www.wral.com/raleigh-man-s-de...rder/12830920/
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  3. #13
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    Jury won't hear some evidence in Hayes trial

    The judge in the trial of Grant Hayes ruled Tuesday that Laura Ackerson's brother cannot testify she was afraid to leave Hayes in 2009 because she said he had threatened her.

    Hayes - aka Grant Haze - is charged - along with his current wife Amanda - with killing Ackerson in July 2011 during a long-running custody dispute over the two children they had together. Prosecutors say Grant and Amanda cut up Ackerson's body, put it in coolers, and then drove them in a U-Haul to Amanda Hayes' sister's house in Richmond, Texas, where the body parts were dumped in a nearby creek.

    Ackerson had lost custody of her children to Hayes and Amanda, who also had a newborn baby with Hayes. Ackerson was fighting in court to get her kids back when she was killed.

    Ackerson's brother Jason testified outside the presence of the jury Tuesday after Hayes' defense objected to what he was about to say. Jason Ackerson said he and his sister had discussed her leaving Grant in 2009 and her coming to live with him. Jason said his sister told him Grant had threatened to harm her and anyone who helped her if she left, and he ultimately decided it would not be safe for his own family if Laura came to stay with him.

    Judge Donald Stephenson ruled that because Jason didn't hear the threat personally, he couldn't testify about it in front of the jury.

    The trial picked up Tuesday after the long holiday weekend. A close friend of Laura testified Friday that Grant Hayes left her with a bloody nose and black eye during a fight when she was pregnant with his first child.

    Heidi Schumacher told jurors she was on the phone with Ackerson in 2008 and could hear Hayes yelling at Ackerson. She said when she rushed over to check on her friend, Hayes was driving off and Ackerson had obvious injuries. Schumacher said Ackerson told her Hayes hit her, but she didn't plan to press charges.

    "I walked up to the door and Laura opened it, crying and bleeding. Her nose was bleeding and her eye was red like it was going to be black. She said it's OK, it's OK, I'm not going to press any charges, it's OK," said Schumacher.

    Schumacher told jurors that about a year after the bloody nose incident, Hayes threatened her and Ackerman, saying not to mess him because he was powerful, had friends, and could kill them. Schumacher said after that she bought a gun, got a conceal/carry permit and gave Ackerson a knife for self-protection.

    In his opening statement, Hayes' attorney William Durham said Hayes didn't kill Ackerson. He told jurors Amanda Hayes killed her in a fight and that Grant is only guilty of trying to cover up the death.

    Hayes and his wife are being tried separately. A jury of eight women and four men is hearing the case. Attorneys have also chosen four alternates. Prosecutors are not seeking the death penalty. Hayes faces life in prison if convicted. Amanda Hayes is expected to go on trial next year.

    http://abclocal.go.com/wtvd/story?se...cal&id=9234465
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  4. #14
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    Inmate testifies Hayes lured Ackerson to his apartment

    The last prosecution witness in the murder trial of Grant Hayes dropped a bombshell Wednesday afternoon.

    Hayes is on trial for allegedly killing Ackerson in 2011. Prosecutors say he and his wife Amanda murdered the 27 year old in their Raleigh apartment and then cut up her body and put it in ice coolers before driving the remains to Texas. They were dumped in a creek near Amanda Hayes sister's home in Richmond.

    Pablo Trinidad and Hayes were both in the Wake County Jail in July 2011 when Hayes was first charged with murdering Ackerson. Trinidad told jurors that Hayes said he and his wife, Amanda lured Ackerson to their apartment and strangled her. He says Hayes told him he couldn't physically commit the crime, but he helped cut up and dispose of Ackerson's body.

    Months prior to Ackerson's death, Dr. Ginger Calloway was hired by attorneys representing Hayes and Ackerson to do mental evaluations of the pair as they battled over custody of their two children.

    Before allowing her to testify Wednesday, Judge Stephens said what she had to say is potentially damaging to Hayes' defense, but the value of the jury knowing the state of mind of the defendant and the victim in 2011 outweighed any prejudice.

    Calloway did not testify as an expert. She simply confirmed statements in a report she filed two months before the murder.

    Among her comments, Calloway described Hayes as irrational when it came to Ackerson and said he had anger issues - possibly related to drug use.

    "It is recommended that Grant be referred to a psychiatrist for evaluation regarding the question of a mood disorder or other possible explanations for the illogical disturbed thinking he exhibits," said Calloway.

    Hayes' defense maintains he didn't kill Ackerson, just helped dispose of her body. It says Amanda Hayes killed her in a fight because she was angry her husband agreed to pay Laura thousands of dollars to agree to give up custody. Grant's lawyers say he is only guilty of trying to cover up the death.

    But in a blow to that defense strategy Wednesday, Kinston lawyer John Sargeant - who was representing Ackerson in the custody fight - testified that he knew of no animosity between Laura and Amanda Hayes. He said Ackerson was afraid of Grant, and they agreed she would never put herself in a position where she was alone with him.

    Hayes and his wife are being tried separately. A jury of eight women and four men is hearing the case. Attorneys have also chosen four alternates. Prosecutors are not seeking the death penalty. Hayes faces life in prison if convicted. Amanda Hayes is expected to go on trial next year.

    http://abclocal.go.com/wtvd/story?se...cal&id=9244331

  5. #15
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    Jury to deliberate in Grant Hayes murder trial

    Jurors will begin deliberating Monday morning in the three-week trial of a man accused of luring his ex-girlfriend to his Raleigh apartment, killing her and then disposing of her dismembered body in a Texas creek.

    Grant Ruffin Hayes, 34, faces life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted of first-degree murder in the July 13, 2011, death of Laura Jean Ackerson. The jury can also consider a second-degree murder verdict in addition to a not-guilty verdict.

    During closing arguments Friday, the state said Hayes killed Ackerson because of a bitter child custody dispute over their two young sons and then cut her up, put her in several coolers and drove to Richmond, Texas, where he dumped her remains near the home of his wife's sister.

    Hayes got Ackerson to come to his home by promising to talk to her about the custody fight, Assistant District Attorney Boz Zellinger said.

    More Info Laura Ackerson, missing Kinston woman Full coverage: Laura Ackerson murder case

    "Laura Ackerson loved her kids to death. She loved her kids to her own death," Zellinger said. "Grant Hayes knew that, and he tried to control her that night. Now, he's trying to control you with his defense."

    Hayes' attorneys said his wife, Amanda Hayes, 41, killed Ackerson and that he is only guilty of trying to help her cover up the crime.

    Amanda Hayes, who's awaiting a January trial, confessed to the crime, they argued.

    "Grant Hayes helped dispose of Laura Ackerson's body because of his wife," defense attorney Will Durham said. "That's a terrible thing — and it's a serious crime, but that's not what this case is about. This case is not about disposing of a body. It's a terrible thing, but it's not murder."

    Security videos showed Hayes on shopping trips to a Raleigh Walmart, where he bought a saw that investigators say was used to dismember Ackerson. Footage from a Home Depot in Texas showed him buying acid that the state argued was poured on her severed head before Hayes dumped it in the creek.

    "He didn't just dispose of her body. He engraved his hate by cutting off her head," Zellinger said. "That dismemberment means more than just disposing of the body. It's extreme abhorrence of the person he killed. What more dehumanizing things could you do to a person?"

    Some of the state's strongest evidence supporting their argument was from a former inmate man who said Hayes told him in late July 2011 while at the Wake County Detention Center that he got Ackerson to go to his home under the false pretense of resolving the custody fight, then subdued and strangled her.

    The jury also heard a song that Hayes recorded in which the lyrics talked of killing his two children's mother. They read similar lyrics to another song that police found in his apartment.

    http://www.wral.com/jury-set-to-deli...rial/12889158/
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  6. #16
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    Wake Grand Jury Issues New Indictment Against Grant Hayes' Wife

    The wife of a man who was convicted last month for killing a Kinston mother has now been indicted on a new charge.

    A Wake County grand jury on Monday indicted Amanda Hayes for being an accessory after the fact of murder.

    The Raleigh woman had already been indicted for the first degree murder of Laura Ackerson of Kinston.

    In 2011, Ackerson's dismembered body was found in a Texas creek, several days after Kinston police reported her missing.

    Last month, Grant Hayes was found guilty of first degree murder and was sentenced to serve life in prison without parole. He was the father of Ackerson's two sons and the two had been involved in a custody dispute before her disappearance.

    Amanda Hayes was supposed to stand trial early next year for her part in the Ackerson murder.

    The indictment says on July 13, 2011 after Grant Hayes killed Ackerson, Amanda Hayes helped her husband in "escaping detection and arrest and punishment."

    It's not immediately known why the Wake County District Attorney's Office also sought the indictment on the lesser charge.

    http://www.witn.com/news/crime/headl...226905021.html
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