Amanda Hayes trial in murder of Laura Ackerson begins in Raleigh


Prosecutors say Amanda and her husband Grant - aka Grant Haze - killed the 27 year old at their Raleigh apartment in July 2011 during a long-running custody dispute.

Ackerson's body was cut up with a power saw, 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.

Amanda Hayes spoke to the judge about the case before jury selection began. He asked Amanda if she had discussed her attorneys' strategy of blaming the murder completely on Grant.

Judge Donald Stephens: "Do you feel like that's in your best interest?"

Amanda Hayes: "Yes, sir."

Stephens: "Okay. Do you authorize them to advise the jury of that fact?"

Hayes: "I entrust my attorney to do whatever he feels is right."

Grant Hayes was convicted of murder last year. He's currently serving a life sentence at the Pasquotank Correctional Center.

In a phone interview with ABC11 from prison last week, Grant said he is not guilty. He claimed Amanda killed Ackerson in an act of self defense. He said the women argued when Ackerson came to the apartment to make a cash deal for custody of the two children she and Grant had together.

"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 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 corpse.

Hayes said he is willing to testify if either side calls him to the witness stand.

Jury selection is expected to go on through at least this week. The trial itself could last up to four weeks.

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