Local/State

Hayes defense blames Ackerson murder on wife

Thursday, August 29, 2013

The defense attorney for the Raleigh man accused of murdering the mother of his two children and cutting up her body blamed the killing on his wife Thursday.

The statement came as the prosecution and defense made their opening statements in the trial of Grant Hayes - aka Grant Haze.

In his opening, Wake County Assistant District Attorney Boz Zellinger gave jurors an outline of the evidence they will hear - calling the death of 27-year-old Laura Ackerson "calculated" and "malignant."

Ackerson disappeared on July 13, 2011 after visiting Hayes' home for a visit with her children. Hayes and his current wife Amanda are accused of killing Ackerson, dismembering her body, and then putting the parts in coolers for a cross-country drive where they were dumped in a creek near Amanda Hayes' sister's house in Richmond, Texas.

Grant Hayes and his wife are being tried separately.

Zellinger said when Raleigh police began their search for Ackerson, they went to Hayes' apartment where there were bleach spots on the floor and one of the bathrooms was missing a shower curtain and bath mats that witnesses said were normally there.

Zellinger also said jurors will hear how Hayes purchased ice, coolers, tarps, and a reciprocating saw with a 6-inch blade before making the trip to Texas.

But in his opening statement, defense attorney William Durham said Grant Hayes' trial is not about him murdering Ackerson, but about him covering up a death. He said Amanda Hayes killed Ackerson in a fight.

"The evidence will show that Grant Hayes is not guilty of murder," said Durham.

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

Durham said Amanda was furious because Grant had agreed to pay Ackerson $25,000 to give up custody of the children. He said Amanda killed Ackerson while Grant was away from the home and then took the lead in planning to dispose of the body.

Durham said Amanda later confessed to her sister, saying "I hurt Laura bad."

A jury of eight women and four men is hearing the case. Attorneys have also chosen four alternates.

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wake county, homicide, local/state
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