Inmate testifies Hayes lured Ackerson to his apartment during Raleigh murder trial

Grant Hayes
September 12, 2013 4:19:07 AM PDT
The last prosecution witness in the murder trial of Grant Hayes dropped a bombshell Wednesday afternoon.

Hayes is on trial for allegedly killing Ackerson in 2011. Prosecutors say he and his wife Amanda murdered the 27 year old in their Raleigh apartment and then cut up her body and put it in ice coolers before driving the remains to Texas. They were dumped in a creek near Amanda Hayes sister's home in Richmond.

Pablo Trinidad and Hayes were both in the Wake County Jail in July 2011 when Hayes was first charged with murdering Ackerson. Trinidad told jurors that Hayes said he and his wife, Amanda lured Ackerson to their apartment and strangled her. He says Hayes told him he couldn't physically commit the crime, but he helped cut up and dispose of Ackerson's body.

Months prior to Ackerson's death, Dr. Ginger Calloway was hired by attorneys representing Hayes and Ackerson to do mental evaluations of the pair as they battled over custody of their two children.

Before allowing her to testify Wednesday, Judge Stephens said what she had to say is potentially damaging to Hayes' defense, but the value of the jury knowing the state of mind of the defendant and the victim in 2011 outweighed any prejudice.

Calloway did not testify as an expert. She simply confirmed statements in a report she filed two months before the murder.

Among her comments, Calloway described Hayes as irrational when it came to Ackerson and said he had anger issues - possibly related to drug use.

"It is recommended that Grant be referred to a psychiatrist for evaluation regarding the question of a mood disorder or other possible explanations for the illogical disturbed thinking he exhibits," said Calloway.

Hayes' defense maintains he didn't kill Ackerson, just helped dispose of her body. It says Amanda Hayes killed her in a fight because she was angry her husband agreed to pay Laura thousands of dollars to agree to give up custody.  Grant's lawyers say he is only guilty of trying to cover up the death.

But in a blow to that defense strategy Wednesday, Kinston lawyer John Sargeant - who was representing Ackerson in the custody fight - testified that he knew of no animosity between Laura and Amanda Hayes. He said Ackerson was afraid of Grant, and they agreed she would never put herself in a position where she was alone with him.

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.

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