Wake couple accused of killing Kinston woman to be tried separately

ablythe@newsobserver.comApril 22, 2013 

— The Wake County couple accused of killing a Kinston mother of two whose body parts were pulled from a Texas creek in July 2011 will be tried separately on murder charges.

Grant Ruffin Hayes, 33, and Amanda Perry Hayes, 40, a couple who never married, are charged with killing Laura Jean Ackerson of Kinston, the mother of two of Grant Hayes’ children.

Though prosecutors initially intended to try the couple together in May, Wake County Judge Donald Stephens ruled on Monday that he thought it would be best to separate their trials in the interest of fairness for each.

Amanda Hayes currently is set to go to trial in late May. Grant Hayes is now to be tried in August.

An attorney representing Amanda Hayes has contended in court documents that Grant Hayes intimidated her before and after her arrest.

The attorney contends the musician, who also goes by the name Grant Haze, sent a letter from the Wake County jail after his arrest in which he threatened to kill Amanda Hayes.

She also contends her client, Amanda Hayes, has an alibi for the time of Ackerson’s death, but was coerced into helping dispose of the body.

Prosecutors urged Stephens on Monday to order that defense attorneys provide them with a list of witnesses who will testify to the alibi.

Grant Hayes, according to family members of the victim, was involved in an acrimonious custody battle with Ackerson 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 contend the death occurred on July 13, 2011. 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.

Grant Hayes, according to a motion filed by his attorney, could contend self-defense, but few details were offered.

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.

On Monday, prosecutors and defense attorneys rose before Stephens to update him on the exchange of evidence from each side.

Lawyers sought any mental health evaluations of Grant Hayes that might be presented at trial.

They sought bank records that include information about withdrawals from automated teller machines

Blythe: 919-836-4948

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service