Hayes - aka Grant Haze - is charged - along with his current wife Amanda - with killing Ackerson at their Raleigh apartment in July 2011 during a long-running custody dispute. Prosecutors say they chopped up Ackerson's body, put it in coolers, and then drove them to Amanda Hayes' sister's house in Richmond, Texas, where the body parts were dumped in a nearby creek.
On the witness stand Monday, a Raleigh Police Department detective testified that investigators went through the trash of the entire apartment complex where Grant and Amanda lived. The huge pile of garbage from a dumpster was isolated in a building so detectives could comb through it.
They found scrub brushes, bath mats, a plunger, masks to help deal with odor, ice bags, blood stained clothing, and bleach soaked towels.
Detective Zeke Morse also read jurors a sampling of Hayes' Facebook messages. In a message posted about seven months before Ackerson's death, Hayes started with an expletive about her, telling a friend "I'm surprised you remembered her name. No one else did."
Ten days after Ackerson's death, he wrote to a friend about her disappearance, saying he was being investigated and wondered if the friend knew of a good attorney who would take the case for free.
"If Laura don't show up soon I may be in for the fight of my life and I'm really scared. Black guy, white girl, custody fight. WTF. This whole thing is top story news here - my picture, here pictures, court papers. It's a night mare. And what's f***ed up is I don't even know until yesterday how big a deal this was. Can you say lawyer?" Hayes wrote.
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.
Hayes' defense maintains he didn't kill Ackerson, just helped dispose of her body. It says 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. 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.