Trial begins for remaining suspect in Laura Ackerson murder

RALEIGH, WAKE COUNTY - Jury selection is underway in the trial of a woman accused of murdering and dismembering Kinston mother Laura Ackerson.

The trial of 41-year-old Amanda Hayes (pictured left) began Tuesday in Raleigh. Hayes pleaded not guilty in November to first-degree murder and accessory after murder.

Prosecutors said Amanda Hayes and her husband, 33-year-old Grant Hayes, killed 27-year-old Laura Ackerson (pictured right), of Kinston, at the couple's Raleigh apartment in July 2011.

Investigators said the couple then dismembered Ackerson, packed her body parts in coolers, and dumped the remains in a creek in Texas.

Ackerson was involved in a custody battle with Grant Hayes over their two sons when she was killed, investigators said.

Grant Hayes was already convicted of first-degree murder in September for Ackerson's death, and was sentenced to life in prison without parole. But in an interview with ABC-affiliate WTVD last week, he said he is not guilty. He claimed that Amanda killed Ackerson in an act of self defense.

According to Grant Hayes, Ackerson came to Amanda's apartment to make a cash deal for custody of Ackerson's and Grant's two children. But an argument ensued, Grant Hayes said.

"As Amanda was walking away, Laura [Ackerson] snatched her back by her hair after telling her she was going to take her child from her. And Amanda told me that [Ackerson] forcefully hit her in the throat with her elbow," Grant Hayes told WTVD.

Grant Hayes said he should have called 911 instead of dumping Ackerson's remains. He said he drank a half bottle of vodka to get the nerve to dismember her body.

Jury selection in Amanda Hayes' trial is expected to last for several days. Grant Hayes said he is willing to testify.

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