Tag Archive | Amanda Hayes

Convicted Ackerson murderer Amanda Hayes at center of jail scandal



The Wake County sheriff says six detention officers are no longer on the job as the result of an investigation into inappropriate relationships with inmates, including Amanda Hayes, who was convicted last month in the murder of Laura Ackerson.

Sheriff Donnie Harrison told WRAL-TV that one officer resigned March 3 after an internal investigation concluded she violated the office fraternization policy. That policy prohibits jail employees from having any kind of relationship with inmates outside the scope of their jobs.

He says the investigation in that officer’s relationship with Amanda Hayes led to the firings a few days later of five other detention officers for similar behavior with other inmates.

Hayes was convicted last month of second-degree murder in the death of her husband’s ex-girlfriend, Laura Ackerson, of Kinston. Hayes and her husband killed Ackerson in Raleigh and dumped her dismembered remains in Texas, investigators said.

Harrison says he found no evidence that the detention officers were having sex with inmates.

Source: AP


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Jury foreman, victim’s brother weigh in on Amanda Hayes verdict


One day after a jury found Amanda Hayes guilty of second-degree murder in the death of Laura Ackerson, ABC11 got exclusive insight and reaction to the verdict.

Ackerson’s brother is speaking out about his family’s loss and what he thinks about the verdict. He’s disappointed with the second degree murder conviction, and the man who led the group that reached that decision understands.

In a murder punctuated by dismemberment, it’s hard for Ackerson’s family to get past the anger and grief.

“Second degree just doesn’t have harsh enough punishment for me,” said Jason Ackerson. “Laura loved the boys.  She loved life. She was altogether a good hearted person.”

“I thought she was guilty of first degree murder,” said jury foreman Tim Mock.

So on one hand, Mock agrees with Ackerson’s brother, but he says the reality of jury deliberations is sometimes there has to be compromise. Nine jurors wanted murder. Two wanted acquittal. A third was undecided.

However, he says eventually they all decided they didn’t want to be hung jury, and were worrying about a do-over.

“They’re going to go through this all again and we don’t know what this next jury will find.  They may find her innocent,” said Mock.

Mock says those who initially believed Hayes might be innocent eventually decided they didn’t buy her story that she didn’t know Ackerson was killed and cut up until days later.

Even though Laura Ackerson was dead, she left plenty of evidence including a diary and notebook jurors asked to take into the jury room. With tears in his eyes, Mock says the panel never lost sight of the victim.

“I just got a little ‘verklempt’ sitting here thinking about that. Laura was in the deliberation room with us,” said Mock.

So they compromised on second degree murder. Mock understands that that explanation isn’t enough for Ackerson’s big brother – a man who once was her protector.

“Wish I could have protected her this time,” said Jason Ackerson.

Jason Ackerson says he’s relying on his faith to one day forgive Grant and Amanda Hayes.

Source: Ed Crump

Link to story: http://abclocal.go.com/wtvd/story?section=news/local&id=9439669

Jury begins deliberating in Raleigh murder trial of Amanda Hayes

RALEIGH (WTVD) – The jury in the Raleigh murder trial of Amanda Hayes began deliberating Monday afternoon. The jury got the case after lawyers on both sides made their closing arguments.

Prosecutors say Amanda and her husband Grant killed 27-year-old Laura Ackerson at their Raleigh apartment in July 2011 during a long-running custody dispute over Grant’s two oldest children.

Grant Hayes was convicted in the murder last year. He’s serving a life sentence.

Amanda is charged with murder and accessory after the fact to murder. In his closing arguments Monday, defense attorney Johnny Gaskins told jurors that Amanda cannot be guilty of both, and she had no role in Ackerson’s murder.

“There is no evidence to support that at all,” said Gaskins.

Gaskins also told jurors they should acquit Amanda on the accessory charge as well.

Gaskins blamed the killing on Grant, who he characterized as a “classic sociopath.”

Ackerson’s body was cut up with a power saw, put in coolers, and then driven in a rented U-Haul to Amanda Hayes’ sister’s house in Richmond, Texas, where the body parts were dumped in a nearby creek.

During the trial, store surveillance video was shown of Grant Hayes shopping at a Walmart for a reciprocating saw and blades. In his closing, Gaskins suggested Grant had killed before and pointed to his casual demeanor in the store as evidence.

“I submit to you that he was a man who knew exactly what he wanted and he knew what he wanted because he had done it before,” charged Gaskins.

Amanda Hayes’ defense maintains she didn’t know of the murder until after she arrived at her sister’s Texas home. In testimony in her own defense last week, Amanda told jurors Grant talked her into making the trip and suggested they deliver a piece of furniture. She said Ackerson’s body was hidden behind the furniture in the U-Haul.

She also said when Grant told her Ackerson was dead, he threatened her with a machete and made her help him in getting rid of the body.

Gaskins told jurors that there were two victims of Grant – both Ackerson and Amanda. He pointed out that when she met Grant, Amanda had $188,000 in savings. Within a year, all the money was gone and all of Amanda’s jewelry had been sold.

“Grant Hayes had taken her for everything she was worth,” said Gaskins.

But in his response, Wake County prosecutor Boz Zellinger called some of the defense assertions “ridiculous” and said many had no basis in fact.

Zellinger said Amanda was a willing participant in getting rid of Ackerson’s body – pointing to surveillance pictures that show her dumping acid containers that Grant purchased to try to dissolve the body.

Zellinger also showed the jury pictures that Grant and Amanda took of themselves on the tip home from Texas that show them laughing and smiling. He asked how she could have been so afraid of Grant, but still take such photos.

In her closing arguments, prosecutor Becky Holt told jurors that Grant and Amanda had clearly reached a point of desperation in their custody battle with Ackerson. She said the couple had originally been living in New York, but got married and moved to North Carolina to win custody.

Grant estimated it would take three months, but 14 months later, they had run through their money and a court appointed psychologist was recommending joint custody.

“They were going to be stuck in Kinston or in Raleigh and having to make these trips,” said Holt.

Holt also challenged Amanda’s testimony that going to Texas was Grant’s idea.

“Grant’s never been to Texas. This is her family,” said Holt. “He doesn’t know what they’re going to do. Does that make sense?”

Holt also took aim and Grant and Amanda’s claim that Ackerson’s death was an accident.

“This wasn’t an accident,” said Holt – asking why – if it was an accident – they didn’t call 911, and why they chopped up Ackerson’s body and took it to Texas.

Jurors can choose from not guilty of murder, not guilty of being an accessory, guilty of first-degree murder, guilty of second-degree murder, or accessory to murder after the fact.

The jury left Monday without reaching a verdict. They will return Tuesday at 9:30 a.m.


Source: ABC11

Amanda Hayes wraps up her testimony in murder trial


RALEIGH — The nine women and three men who will deliberate the fate of Amanda Hayes, the 41-year-old woman accused of helping her husband murder the mother of her stepsons, were sent home early Wednesday as snow began to blanket the Triangle.

Hayes, a former art-supply store owner who has worked as an actress, cosmetologist and real estate agent, wrapped up her testimony before Judge Don Stephens called it a day.

Hayes, the mother of two daughters – a toddler and an adult in her 20s – is accused of working in concert with Grant Hayes to murder and dismember Laura Jean Ackerson, a 27-year-old graphic artist from Kinston.

Ackerson, the mother of Grant Hayes’ sons, was killed in July 2011. Her remains were found in a Texas creek yards away from the home of Amanda Hayes’ sister 11 days after Ackerson’s friends last saw her alive.

Prosecutors contend that Ackerson was killed during a bitter custody battle with the father of her children, and that her body was dismembered in the Wake County apartment where the Hayeses lived.

Amanda Hayes testified in her defense Tuesday and Wednesday, adamantly insisting that she did not kill Ackerson nor participate in the dismemberment. Amanda Hayes said she did not know that Ackerson was dead, with her body parts in coolers and ice bags, until she was at the home of her sister in Texas.

Hayes said Grant Hayes, her husband of almost a year and the father of her toddler daughter Lilly, was a manipulative and threatening spouse who led her to believe her family would be harmed if she did not help him dispose of the body they had hauled cross country in July 2011.

Grant Hayes was convicted in September of murder and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility for parole. He has appealed the verdict.

At his trial, Grant Hayes acknowledged through his attorneys that he had helped with the attempted coverup of Ackerson’s death.

But his defense team pointed the finger at Amanda Hayes and used the words of her sister to try to bolster their claims.

Amanda Hayes told her sister, according to testimony, that Ackerson was dead and she had hurt her.

But from the witness stand this week, Amanda Hayes explained that she was under duress when she arrived at her sister’s, not only from her fears of her husband but also because she had given birth to their daughter weeks earlier and was recovering still from Cesarean-section surgery.

Amanda Hayes said she had hoped to escape from her husband after learning that Ackerson had died in their apartment and that her body was in the U-Haul they had pulled from Raleigh to Texas with a piece of furniture she hoped to leave with her sister.

The Hayeses were in dire financial straits, and she worried that her husband would try to sell one of the last objects of value she had.

Amanda Hayes met Grant Hayes in the Virgin Islands. He was a musician, and she lived there with her daughter and ran an arts supply store.

He followed Amanda Hayes to the United States, first living with her in New York and then moving her to Raleigh with him so they could be closer to his sons.

Prosecutors, who are expected to call a witness after the defense rests, have argued that she participated in the crime that left two boys motherless.

‘Sorry for Laura’

Amanda Hayes testified that she sympathized with Ackerson.

“I honestly was feeling sorry for Laura, because it appeared to me that she didn’t really have a support system,” Amanda Hayes told jurors, adding that she had tried to persuade her husband to abandon the custody fight with Ackerson. The toll was lending emotional and financial stress to their relationship.

On July 13, 2011, Ackerson traveled to Raleigh from Kinston to pick up her sons, according to the testimony of her friends.

Amanda Hayes said Grant Hayes and Ackerson argued in their apartment. Amanda Hayes said she, too, was upset during that visit.

Not only was she troubled that her husband had talked about settling a custody fight for $25,000 – money they no longer had, she said she was upset that Ackerson had wanted to hold her 1-month-old daughter.

Amanda Hayes said her refusal to let Ackerson hold Lilly set off the Kinston woman and that she followed Amanda Hayes around the apartment until she tripped over a rug and fell into Amanda Hayes.

“Grant saw the whole thing, and he came to her, and he just grabbed her to pull her back,” Amanda Hayes testified.

What happened next, Amanda Hayes said, was a mystery to her until she got to Texas.

The defense team announced its plans to call one more witness before resting its case.

If weather permits, closing arguments could happen this week.

Source: Ann Blythe, News Observer / Photo: Travis Long, News Observer


Prosecution rests in Amanda Hayes murder trial

RALEIGH — After 10 days of testimony and more than 40 witnesses, prosecutors trying Amanda Hayes on murder charges rested their case on Monday.

Hayes, 41, a former actress and art-supply store owner, is accused of working in concert with her husband Grant Hayes to kill Laura Jean Ackerson in July 2011.

Ackerson was 27 and the mother of Grant Hayes’ two pre-school-aged sons.

Prosecutors contend that Ackerson and the Hayeses were involved in a bitter custody battle over the boys and that the killing occurred amid one of the arguments.

Prosecutors say the couple then dismembered the body, packed the remains into coolers with 10 bags of ice and transported them to Texas for disposal in a creek.

Grant Hayes was convicted in September of murder and is serving a life sentence in a North Carolina prison.

During his trial, Grant Hayes acknowledged helping with the dismemberment and disposal of the body, but blamed Amanda Hayes for the killing.

Attorneys for Amanda Hayes, who has a pre-school-aged daughter with Grant Hayes, have argued that she, too, was a victim of Grant Hayes.

They have argued that she has an alibi for the killing and that she was coerced and manipulated by a husband she feared to help with the disposal of Ackerson in a creek just yards from her sister’s Texas home.

The defense called its first witness Monday after the prosecution rested.

Source: News Observer / Photo: Scott Sharpe, News Observer