Prosecutors say Hayes - aka Grant Haze - and his current wife Amanda killed 27-year-old Laura Ackerson at their Raleigh apartment in July, 2011 during a long-running custody dispute. Ackerson's body was dismembered, put in coolers, and then driven in a rented U-Haul to Amanda Hayes' sister's house in Richmond, Texas, where the body parts were dumped in a nearby creek.
Speaking with ABC11 Thursday, Grant Hayes said he didn't kill Ackerson. He claimed Amanda killed her in an act of self defense, but he did admit helping get rid of the body by cutting it up with a power saw.
"It's awful. It's something you never want to experience or know what it's like. It's haunting," said Hayes.
Hayes has a long list of grievances against prosecutors, his defense team, and investigators and is confident he has the evidence to get a new trial that will exonerate him.
"I need to extend my condolences to Laura's family and friends and to my family as well. But I didn't kill Laura. And as bad of a crime as desecrating a corpse is, it's a worse crime to sentence a man to life without giving him a fair trial," he said.
Hayes claimed Ackerson came to the apartment to make a cash deal to give up custody of her sons and while she was there he left the room momentarily. During that time, he said Ackerson and Amanda started arguing over the children.
"As Amanda was walking away, Laura snatched her back by her hair after telling her she was going to take her child from her. And Amanda told me that she forcefully hit her in the throat with her elbow," said Hayes.
Hayes says when he comes back in the room, Ackerson was lying on the floor bleeding from her nose and Amanda was in the nursery screaming.
"It does not dawn on me in any way that she might be mortally wounded at all. I mean, I was gone out of the room less than a minute literally. And, uh, Laura died in front of me and my son Little Grant," said Hayes.
Hayes said he should have called 911 but instead made a bad decision to dispose of the body. He said he drank a half bottle of vodka to get up the nerve to dismember the body.
"It's a permanent scar on my soul, you know, and I can definitely understand that. There's no defense. There's no excuse for dismembering a corpse," he offered.
Amanda Hayes is set to go on trial next week. Grant said he is willing to testify if either side calls him to the witness stand. He's currently serving a life sentence at the Pasquotank Correctional Center.