Prosecutor grills Amanda Hayes at Raleigh murder trial


Hayes is accused in the murder of 27-year-old Laura Ackerson in July 2011. Prosecutors allege Amanda and husband Grant killed Ackerson during a long-running custody dispute over two children Grant and Ackerson had together.

After the murder, Ackerson's body was cut up and put in coolers for a drive across the country to Amanda's sister's house in Texas - where the body parts were dumped in a creek.

Grant Hayes was convicted of murder last year. He's currently serving a life sentence.

Prosecutors allege Amanda took part in the murder and disposal of the body, but her defense blames the killing on Grant who it's characterized as a sociopath and master manipulator.

In her testimony, Amanda told the jury she didn't know Ackerson was dead until they got to Texas. She denied taking part in the killing. She said she was afraid of Grant, who threatened her with a machete if she didn't help him dispose of the body.

Wake County Assistant District Attorney challenged Amanda's version of events. While she was polite and firm, she questioned Amanda's credibility - who Holt pointed out had training as an actor in a drama school.

"This involved learning your lines, playing a role, and being convincing?" asked Holt.

But Hayes stood firm under Holt's questioning. She admitted there was an argument in the couple's Raleigh apartment with Ackerson and the 27 year old approached her.

"She um I guess she tripped on the rug. Grant grabbed her and was pulling her backwards and they started struggling, and she kicked this little wall right here and whenever she did they went backward and there was a chair, they flip, they fell, they tipped over the chair when they fell," recalled Amanda.

Hayes said Grant asked her to leave the apartment with the children because Ackerson was hurt. But when she returned he said Ackerson was okay and had gone home.

After Hayes' testimony concluded, Judge Donald Stephens suspended testimony because of the inclement winter weather. It's not clear when the trial will resume.

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