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Monday, January 27, 2014

Day 1 Recap in the Amanda Hayes Murder Trial

Opening statements began today in the trial of a Raleigh woman accused of killing her husband's ex-girlfriend.

Amanda Hayes, 41, is charged with first-degree murder in the July 2011 death of Laura  Ackerson. Ackerson was the ex-girlfriend of Hayes' husband, Grant Hayes, who was found guilty last year for his role in Ackerson's death.

Prosecutors say Grant and Amanda Hayes lured Ackerson to their apartment in 2011, killed her, dismembered her and dumped her remains in a Texas creek, where Amanda Hayes had family.

The motive, investigators say, was a custody dispute over the two children Hayes had with Ackerson.
During Grant Hayes' trial, prosecutors showed the jury video of Hayes buying a high-powered saw at a Wal-Mart. It is believed he used the saw to dispose of Ackerson.

The jury also listened to a song Grant Hayes recorded that prosecutors said was about killing Ackerson.

The defense argued that Amanda Hayes killed Ackerson and Grant Hayes simply helped cover it up, but the jury didn't buy the story and he was sentenced to life in prison.

Laura Ackerson

Monday, prosecutors began their opening statement by saying, "'I hurt her bad'...those were the words of Amanda Hayes."

Hayes' attorney Johnny Gaskins, argued her participation was against her will, going so far as to call her a "victim" in the case.

Calling Grant Hayes a controlling sociopath, the defense claimed Amanda Hayes had no idea Ackerson was killed until she was asked to help dispose of the body. And her husband threatened her with a machete unless she complied.

The defense claimed Grant Hayes said, "If you don't do it than none of us are getting out of here alive."

Gaskins continued, "He pulls out a machete--whacks her across the leg--{and says} this is what you can expect if you don't think I mean business."

The State's first witness was the victim's friend and business partner, Chavon Mathes.  She was shaking and appeared very nervous.  At one point during her testimony,  she broke down.

Mathes testified that she tried calling Laura after not hearing from her after July 13, 2011.  Her calls went directly to voice mail.  She thought this was unusual because Laura never turned off her phone - in case she received a call about her kids.

Mathes says after numerous attempts to reach Laura, she sent her an email on July 17, saying that if she didn't hear from her, she was going to police.

On July 18, 2011, Mathes contacted police to report her friend missing.

On cross-examination, Mathes says Laura had talked to her about how she feared Grant Hayes. "She said if anything ever happens to me, Grant did it."

The final witness today was James Gwartney.  He is the police officer who started investigating after Mathes reported Laura missing.

Jurors were show a security video from July 13, 2011, of Laura leaving her Kinston apartment at 8:10 a.m.

Gwartney testified that he spoke with Grant Hayes via phone on July 18, 2011.  Hayes said he last saw Laura around 9 p.m. or 9:30 p.m. on July 13.

Gwartney will continue on the stand tomorrow morning, 9:30 am EST. 

Sources include WNCN, WRAL

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