RALEIGH — Eight women and four men on a Wake County jury needed no more than 90 minutes on Monday to come to a unanimous decision on the fate of Grant Hayes, the 34-year-old man they convicted of murdering and dismembering the mother of his two preschool-age sons.
The verdict brings to a close a trial in Wake County Superior Court that lasted nearly two weeks and brought forth witnesses with pieces of a gruesome case that spanned from Kinston to Raleigh to Texas.
Laura Jean Ackerson, the mother of Hayes two young sons Grant IV and Gentle was killed in Raleigh on July 13, 2011.
Friends of the graphic artist from Kinston reported her missing several days later and on July 24, 2011, authorities in Richmond, Texas, discovered Ackersons body in a creek about 100 yards from the home of Hayes sister-in-law.
Amanda Hayes, the 41-year-old wife of Grant Hayes, is also accused of murder in Ackersons death. Her trial is set for January.
On Monday, the jury was focused on only one member of the Hayes family Grant Hayes, the musician whose attorneys contended assisted in the dismembering and disposal of Ackerson but was not responsible for the killing.
Prosecutors argued that Grant Hayes lured Ackerson to his Raleigh apartment in July 2011, amid a bitter custody dispute, and either acted in concert with Amanda Hayes in her death or was responsible for the malicious plot that killed her.
The jury found him guilty of first-degree murder, a conviction that brings an automatic sentence of life in prison without possibility of parole for a person his age.
I think that a jury verdict in a case like this, in an hour and a half, probably speaks louder than anything anyone could say about this case, Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens said prior to the sentencing.
Attorneys for Grant Hayes immediately announced their intentions to appeal the case.