Heidi Schumacher told jurors she was on the phone with Ackerson in 2008 and could hear Hayes yelling at Ackerson. She said when she rushed over to check on her friend, Hayes was driving off and Ackerson had obvious injuries. Schumacher said Ackerson told her Hayes hit her, but she didn't plan to press charges.
"I walked up to the door and Laura opened it, crying and bleeding. Her nose was bleeding and her eye was red like it was going to be black. She said it's OK, it's OK, I'm not going to press any charges, it's OK," said Schumacher.
Hayes - aka Grant Haze - is charged - along with his current wife Amanda - with killing Ackerson in July 2011. Prosecutors say the couple cut up Ackerson's body, put it in coolers, and then drove them in a U-Haul to Amanda Hayes' sister's house in Richmond, Texas, where the body parts were dumped in a nearby creek.
Schumacher told jurors that about a year after the bloody nose incident, Hayes threatened her and Ackerman, saying not to mess him because he was powerful, had friends, and could kill them. Schumacher said after that she bought a gun, got a conceal/carry permit and gave Ackerson a knife for self-protection.
In his opening statement, Hayes' attorney William Durham said Hayes didn't kill Ackerson. He told jurors Amanda Hayes killed her in a fight and that Grant is only guilty of trying to cover up the death.
Hayes and his wife are being tried separately.
Ackerson was the mother of Grant Hayes' two oldest children and she had lost custody of them to Hayes and Amanda, who also had a newborn baby with Hayes. Ackerson was fighting in court to get her kids back when she was killed.
Also on the witness stand Friday was Kinston Police Department detective James Gwartney. Ackerson lived in Kinston before her death. He told jurors about his search for Ackerson after getting a missing person report. He testified he spoke to Hayes who he said admitted that Ackerson had come to his apartment - even though they usually met in public places because of past arguments.
Hayes told the detective he and Ackerson were working out a custody agreement. Hayes' defense claims Amanda was furious because Grant had agreed to pay Ackerson $25,000 for custody. It says Amanda killed Ackerson while Grant was away from the home and then took the lead in planning to dispose of the body.
A jury of eight women and four men is hearing the case. Attorneys have also chosen four alternates. Prosecutors are not seeking the death penalty. Hayes faces life in prison if convicted. Amanda Hayes is expected to go on trial next year.