RALEIGH — Prosecutors and defense attorneys completed the evidence-phase for the murder trial of Amanda Hayes on Friday, concluding with a witness who had familial ties to the defendant, her alleged co-defendant and the victim.
Patsy Hayes, the mother of Grant Hayes, was called to the witness stand by prosecutors after defense attorneys wrapped up with the testimony of a woman who had served time in jail with Amanda Hayes.
Since Laura Jean Ackerson was murdered, Patsy Hayes has been taking care of the three young children whose lives have been turned upside down by the July 2011 killing.
Amanda Hayes, 41, had given birth to a daughter with Grant Hayes, the musician who was convicted in September of murdering Ackerson, the mother of his two sons.
The boys, Gentle and Little Grant, and the girl, Lilly, now 20 months old, have been in the care of Patsy Hayes and her husband.
While in jail awaiting trial on charges that she acted in concert with Grant Hayes to kill Ackerson and dispose of the body, Amanda Hayes has written letters to Patsy Hayes.
Patsy Hayes read some of the responses from Amanda Hayes in Wake County Superior Court on Friday.
Prosecutors hoped to use them to offer a portrait of the defendant for the nine women and three men on the jury that conflicted with testimony from Amanda Hayes.
Amanda Hayes, an actress who has played roles in TV series and as an extra in the movie “The Stepford Wives,” testified for hours over two days in her defense.
She said she did not kill Ackerson nor help with the dismemberment. Amanda Hayes said she only learned of the death of her stepsons’ mother in Texas, where body parts were dumped in a creek near the home of Amanda Hayes’ sister.
Amanda Hayes described Grant Hayes as a manipulative man who threatened her with a machete and made her fear harm for her family. Amanda Hayes also testified that she wanted to get away from Grant Hayes after learning of Ackerson’s death, but feared he might harm their infant daughter and her grown daughter.
Letters to mother-in-law
But the letters read by Patsy Hayes made no mention of such fear. In one letter, Amanda Hayes thanked her mother-in-law for caring for the children and asked her to relay a message to Grant Hayes, who was in jail. “Please tell my husband that I love him very much and I think about him every day.”
In another correspondence, Amanda Hayes included a letter for Patsy Hayes to read to Grant Hayes the next time she spoke to him in jail. She told her husband she wanted to coordinate meditation times with him. “I want you to know how much I love you with all my heart,” the letter from Amanda Hayes to Grant Hayes stated.
The defense team suggested that Amanda Hayes wrote such letters to try to keep peace with in-laws who were caring for her infant daughter.
Closing arguments are set for Monday. Judge Don Stephens, who has presided over the trial, told the lawyers that each side would get two hours to knit together its evidence for the jury.
Blythe: 919-836-4948; Twitter: @AnneBlythe1