Prosecution rests in Raleigh murder trial of Grant Hayes


After two weeks of gruesome testimony, Hayes' trial is winding down, but his sister-in-law's testimony, against his wife and co-defendant, dropped a bombshell.

"She told me that she had hurt Laura and that she had hurt her bad," said Karen Berry, Grant Hayes' sister-in-law.

Berry told jurors that Grant and her sister, Amanda Hayes, showed up at her Texas home with three kids -- their newborn daughter and Grant's two boys with Laura Ackerson. Ackerson, whose dismembered body would soon be found in a creek very near that Texas home, was embroiled in a bitter custody fight with the Hayes.

"Laura told her that she had taken her kids and she was going to take hers away from her," said Berry.

Hayes' attorney Jeff Cutler responded, "That Laura was going to take Amanda's baby, Lillian?" Berry responded "yes."

Another courtroom shocker happened right before Berry took the stand for the defense. The prosecution wrapped its case with Walmart video of Grant Hayes buying a reciprocating saw at 2 a.m., and a hate song written about Ackerson called "Broomstick Rider."

As the music played, Hayes leaned back to watch the lyrics on the big screen and even rocked to the beat.

In another setback for the defense just before the trial wrapped for the day, Berry, who earlier said Amanda admitted "hurting Laura Ackerson bad" testified that Amanda later nodded her head when asked if she was just covering for Grant Hayes.

Berry will be back on the stand Friday morning.

Earlier in the day, one of Hayes' lawyers went after a witness who testified that Hayes told him in prison that he and his wife Amanda lured the 27-year-old Ackerson to their Raleigh apartment and strangled her.

Pablo Trinidad and Hayes were both in the Wake County Jail in July 2011 when Hayes was first charged with murder. Trinidad also told jurors that Hayes told him he couldn't physically commit the crime because he didn't have the strength in his hands, but he helped cut up and dispose of Ackerson's body.

But under cross examination Thursday, Hayes' lawyer challenged Trinidad's credibility. His voice raised at times, William Durham got Trinidad to admit he has gotten huge reductions in his prison sentence by providing information about others.

"So this is your only real chance to get it reduced again, isn't it?" asked Durham.

"I was hoping that I would get some relief, but once again I was never promised. Nobody has spoken to me since saying that I am going to get some relief from this testimony I am giving today," Trinidad responded.

Trinidad also denied using news reports to shape his testimony. Trinidad testified that Hayes told him he didn't have the strength in his hands to strangle Ackerson because of years of playing musical instruments.

The testimony plays to the defense claim that Hayes' wife Amanda committed the actual murder.

Prosecutors say Ackerson was killed in Hayes' Raleigh apartment. After her body was cut up into parts, Grant and Amanda allegedly loaded the remains into ice coolers and then trucked them to Texas in a rented U-Haul where they were dumped in a creek near Amanda's sister's house in Richmond.

The murder came during a lengthy court fight between Ackerson and Grant over the custody of their two children.

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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