In the summer of 2011, Karen Berry was interviewed by police looking into 27-year-old Laura Ackerson's death. She told them her sister might be involved and said she dreaded the day she might have to come to court and testify against her. Wednesday was that day.
"She told me that Laura was dead and that she had done it," said Berry, about her sister, Amanda Hayes.
During her testimony, Hayes never looked up and, instead, wrote as her sister testified.
What Berry said Wednesday was stronger than her testimony in Grant Hayes' trial.
Five months ago, Grant Hayes was convicted of the murder of Ackerson, who was the mother of his two boys. That happened even though Berry testified then that her sister had told her only that she had hurt Laura and hurt her bad.
Now, however, Amanda Hayes says she didn't know Laura had died at the Raleigh apartment where Amanda lived with Hayes, his two young sons, and their infant daughter.
She says Grant not only killed Ackerson, but cut up her body and hid it in a trailer with furniture they towed to Berry's house in Texas.
Amanda says that's where Grant threatened to kill her and the children if she didn't help dump the body parts in a creek across from Berry's house.
Berry told jurors she helped raise Amanda, who is 14 years younger. She says she taught Amanda like she taught her own children - that when you lie you get one second chance to look her in the eye and tell the truth.
She says that's what happened right before Amanda left Texas to return to Raleigh.
"I said, 'Are you covering for Grant,' and it was like the little look of when she was a little girl, and she just like, she just like, and she just kind of melted," said Berry. "She never said a word, but she nodded her head 'yes'."
Now, it will be up to the jury to sort out two very different stories.
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