Tag Archive | Grant Hayes

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

About these ads

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


Amanda Hayes murder trial resumes with irritated judge

Amanda Hayes listens to testimony.

RALEIGH (WTVD) – A clearly irritated Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens chastised Amanda Hayes’ defense team Thursday morning when they didn’t show up on time.

Lawyers said there had been a miscommunication over when court would begin following a day off caused by the winter weather, but Stephens told them he was “disappointed they weren’t more proactive” about finding out when court would start – pointing out everyone else – including the jury – knew when to show up.

After the delay, testimony resumed with Hayes’ daughter Sha Guddat on the stand.

Prosecutors say Amanda and her husband Grant – aka Grant Haze – 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.

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.

Before the murder, Grant and Amanda had custody of the two boys and Ackerson had visitation rights.

Grant Hayes was convicted of murder last year. He’s currently serving a life sentence at the Pasquotank Correctional Center.

Prosecutors allege Amanda took part in the murder and disposal of the body, but her defense blames the killing on Grant who it’s characterized as a sociopath and master manipulator. Attorney Johnny Gaskins told jurors in his opening statement that Amanda actually didn’t know Ackerson was dead until they got to Texas. He said Grant dismembered the body somewhere else and got Amanda to go to Texas by encouraging her to visit her sister and deliver a piece of furniture.

Gaskins also told jurors Grant hid the body in a U-Haul and threatened Amanda with a machete to get her to take part in disposing of the corpse after they arrived at the sister’s house.

But on the witness stand Thursday, Guddat testified about what she saw in Grant and Amanda’s apartment after the date detectives believe Ackerson was murdered.

Guddat said there was the strong smell of bleach, and there was a wet towel – apparently soaked in bleach – on the carpet.

“It was very strange to me. The house smelled like bleach. My mom doesn’t use bleach to clean,” said Guddat.

She testified the smell was so strong she opened windows to air out the apartment.

During Guddat’s testimony, jurors also got to hear a song Grant allegedly wrote and performed with Ackerson in mind.

Titled “Broomstick Rider,” the lyrics include the line “You must have told your attorney I got intentions on killing you. What? (unintelligible) Might stop me, but my bullets will get you soon.”

Guddat also spoke of Grant and Amanda’s money troubles, saying thousands of dollars worth of Amanda’s jewelry was sold, along with furniture.

“It was obvious Grant didn’t have any money, my mom paid for everything,” she said.

The trial could last up to four weeks.

Source: WTVD

Defense claims new evidence in Amanda Hayes trial


RALEIGH, N.C. – The lawyer for Amanda Hayes came forward Thursday with what he says is critical evidence the state overlooked in the murder case involving his client.

Hayes is charged in the death of Laura Ackerson of Kinston.

Johnny Gaskins claims he found a bio-hazard suit and latex gloves left inside the SUV which prosecutors say transported the dismembered remains of Laura Ackerson to Texas, where her remains were discarded.

Gaskin says he hopes to prove the items were used by Grant Hayes to dismember Ackerson and his client was not responsible for the killing.

Amanda Hayes pleaded not guilty last month to murder. Two months ago, a jury found her husband Grant Hayes guilty of killing Ackerson, the mother of his two oldest children.

Gaskins failed to convince a judge Thursday that the evidence was strong enough to delay the January 21st start of the trial.

The prosecution said Thursday the new evidence will be explained in court and they are not fazed.

source: WNCT Staff