Woman defends her accused mother

August 5, 2011 5:52:27 PM PDT
The daughter of the woman charged in connection with the murder of Laura Ackerson spoke to ABC11 Eyewitness News. In an exclusive interview, she says her mother, Amanda Hayes, is not a monster.

Sha Elmer, 22, says her mother has never been in trouble and that's why she's having a difficult time accepting the allegations her mother is facing.

Elmer asked, "What happened? What happened?"

That was her reaction after finding out her mother, Hayes, was charged with first-degree murder.

"I don't know what happened, but that's not my mom," Elmer said. "She loves with everything she has in her heart."

Hayes's husband, Grant Hayes, is also charged in connection with the murder.

Elmer describes him as a "nice guy" who is very friendly and "very charismatic."

The 22-year-old set the record straight when it comes to who she thinks is responsible for Ackerson's murder.

"My mom is not a monster," Elmer explained. "She got pulled into a bad situation, but my mom is not a monster."

She says June was an emotional month for her family and especially, for her mother, Amanda, who within days lost her own mother and gave birth to a baby girl. It is her first child with Grant.

"I've never seen my mom light up the way she did when we handed her that baby," Elmer said.

Elmer says she noticed a change in her mother, who appeared stressed and somewhat withdrawn.

"The first two weeks after the baby was born, and they got home and stuff," she added. "I was over there pretty regularly and then it definitely started less and less that she was calling and asking me to come over."

Elmer says she saw her mom and Grant on July 14 -- a day after Ackerson was last seen alive, leaving her children at Hayes's Raleigh apartment. In the days that followed, Elmer described her mother as appearing "numb." Elmer thought things were weird but didn't know something had gone terribly wrong until police showed up at her home.

"And it's not even cops, it was detectives from the homicide unit banging on my front door," she added.

This week she had the chance to visit her mother in jail.

"I just asked her I was like, 'Momma, are you okay?'" Elmer says her mother replied, "'Baby, I know I didn't do anything wrong, everything's going to be okay and I just kept the babies safe.'"

When asked if Elmer believes her mom. She replied, "One-hundred percent without a doubt in my mind. You can't ignore, you just can't ignore it. Something horrific happened and only one person really knows what happened."

Elmer believes that person is Grant, the father of Ackerson's two boys. She says he swept her mother off of her feet.

"She just had this sparkle in her eye, and I was happy for her," Elmer added.

She says her mother and Grant met in the Virgin Islands where Amanda owned an art supply store.

ABC11 asked, "Did anything about Grant Hayes kind of raise a red flag to you? Or did you just, you just felt comfortable around him?"

"I just felt comfortable around him," Elmer said. "He was a musician, and I was fascinated and I think a lot of what it was -- me and my mom were both very fascinated.

That fascination quickly turned into something more and Amanda and Grant married in Vegas last year.

When asked if Elmer ever saw Grant angry, aggressive or if he spoke to her mom in an abusive way, she said "no."

But she says she noticed some irritation when it came to Ackerson and Grant. She says she's angry at Grant for putting her mother in this situation and destroying her family.

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