Jury selection began today in the trial of 34-year-old Grant Hayes, who is accused of the first degree murder of his ex-girlfriend and mother of his two children, Laura Ackerson. Laura, who was 27 years old at the time of her death, was found in a creek in Richmond, Texas, her body completely dismembered, on July 24, 2011.
Grant and his wife, Amanda Hayes, were both charged with Laura’s murder. This case should be a very interesting one to follow, because both defendants are blaming the other. Initially, Grant and Amanda were going to be tried together, but after hearing their very different defense strategies, the judge ruled that they would be tried separately, with Grant’s trial up first. Grant is claiming that he is not guilty and that Amanda had allegedly confessed to her sister that she killed Laura. Meanwhile, Amanda’s defense says that she participated in Ackerson’s death while under duress, fearing for her life and that Grant, while in jail, threatened to kill her.
Since Grant’s trial is set to begin, let’s take a look at the timeline of the case.
July 13, 2011 According to police search warrants, Laura drives from her home in Kinston, NC, to Grant’s home in Raleigh to meet with him and their two children, who were currently in Grant’s custody. After her meeting with Grant, Laura was supposed to meet a friend of hers in Cary, NC, but she never shows up.
July 18, 2011 Laura is reported missing to the police by her business partner, after not showing up to work.
July 19, 2011 Investigators find Laura’s abandoned vehicle in a parking lot in Raleigh in front of an address where her ex-boyfriend Grant used to live.
July 20, 2011 Police execute search warrants on Laura’s vehicle, as well as in Grant’s apartment.
July 24, 2011 Laura’s dismembered remains are found in a creek in southern Texas.
July 25, 2011 Grant and Amanda are arrested and charged with the murder of Laura Ackerson. Investigators execute search warrants for Grant’s apartment for a second time, as well as on a storage unit owned by Grant and Amanda.
The case against Grant
The State in this case has gone on record in court as saying that they have “overwhelming evidence” against Grant in Laura’s murder. Although we won’t hear what the exact evidence is until it comes out at trial, below are some items that I discovered in the search warrants that might be used in the trial:
- Laura’s last known contact was with Grant on the day she was last known to be alive.
- Laura never showed up to her meeting with her friend that she had scheduled for after her meeting with Grant. Her friends say that this is very unlike her.
- Police are quoted as saying that Grant and Laura were going through a “contentious child custody case” involving their children and that he and Amanda invited Laura over to their home on July 13, 2011.
- Police say that after Laura’s disappearance, Grant and Amanda drove to Texas and rented a U-Haul. They then went to a storage unit with the U-Haul, where police believe they transported evidence related to the murder.
- Laura’s body was found in a creek, not far from Amanda’s sister’s home.
- Evidence was found in the trash at Grant and Amanda’s home that leads police to believe that Laura was killed and dismembered there.
- Police state in the search warrants that “information was developed through interviews” that Grant and Amanda killed Laura, dismembered her body, and dumped the remains in Texas.
- Police have reason to believe that Grant and Amanda had recently purchased a saw, which may have been used in the dismemberment.
Investigators have never said how Laura died, but an autopsy report said the cause of death was “undetermined homicidal violence.”
If convicted of first-degree murder, Grant faces life in prison without the possibility of parole.
I’ll provide a link or a livestream to this trial, after testimony begins.
Video of Grant in court today is embedded below, courtesy of ABC 11: