Wake judge to revisit whether to try Raleigh couple together on murder

ablythe@newsobserver.comApril 11, 2013 

— A Wake County judge will reconsider whether to try a Raleigh couple together on accusations that they killed a Kinston woman whose body parts were pulled from a Texas creek in July 2011.

Grant Ruffin Hayes, 33, and Amanda Perry Hayes, 40, a couple who never married, are charged with killing Laura Jean Ackerson, the mother of Grant Hayes’ children who had been living in Kinston before her death.

Wake County lawyers and prosecutors spent much of Thursday reviewing the status of pending homicide cases in Wake County.

Rosemary Godwin, a Chapel Hill lawyer representing Amanda Hayes, has put in a request to allow her client to sit at a separate defense table from Grant Hayes when the trial begins in late May.

In a court document offering few details, Godwin contends that Grant Hayes sent an intimidating letter from the Wake County jail after his arrest in which he threatened to kill Amanda Hayes.

Godwin also provided a glimpse of the defense she plans to use, saying her client has an alibi for the time of Ackerson’s death, but was coerced into helping dispose of the body.

Grant Hayes – a musician who also goes by the last name Haze – was involved in an acrimonious custody battle with Ackerson, the mother of his two sons, in Lenoir County shortly before July 24, 2011.

That’s when authorities in Richmond, Texas, found remains in a creek near the home of Amanda Hayes’ sister.

Investigators have contended that at least one of the Hayeses killed Ackerson and hacked her body into pieces. They say the remains were placed in several large coolers and loaded into a rented U-Haul trailer that the couple then towed more than 1,250 miles to the home of Amanda Hayes’ sister near Houston, where they were dumped in a creek about 100 yards from the house.

In March, defense attorneys for the Hayeses did not object to a joint trial. But they reserved the possibility that they might ask for the cases to be separated.

Judge Don Stephens plans to hold a hearing on April 22 after the concerns raised in Superior Court on Thursday.

Blythe: 919-836-4948

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