Judge tries to limit grisly pictures in Ackerson murder case
RALEIGH (WTVD) -- When jurors were initially questioned about serving in the Grant Hayes trial, lawyers asked them if they could deal with looking at pictures of a dead person. Few probably realized how gruesome the case would be.
Hayes - aka Grant Haze - is charged - along with his current wife Amanda - with killing Laura Ackerson at their Raleigh apartment in July 2011 during a long-running custody dispute. Prosecutors say they chopped up Ackerson's body, put it in coolers, and then drove them to Amanda Hayes' sister's house in Richmond, Texas, where the body parts were dumped in a nearby creek.
Testimony in the case has been so filled with images and descriptions of decomposing body parts that Wake County Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens has tried to limit juror's exposure.
"If one photograph can make, can be used to make six different points then I would prefer that as opposed to six different photographs to make six different points," he told lawyers Friday.
The day began with testimony from a forensic dentist who explained how he identified Ackerson through dental records - including showing them pictures of her skull and teeth.
Jurors got a break with the second witness of the day - an investigator who showed them testy text messages between Hayes and Ackerson.
Ackerson was the mother of Grant Hayes' two oldest children and she had lost custody of them to Hayes and Amanda, who also had a newborn baby with Hayes. Ackerson was fighting in court to get her kids back when she was killed.
Hayes' defense maintains he didn't kill Ackerson, just helped dispose of her body. It says Amanda Hayes killed her in a fight and that Grant is only guilty of trying to cover up the death.
Hayes and his wife are being tried separately. A jury of eight women and four men is hearing the case. Attorneys have also chosen four alternates. Prosecutors are not seeking the death penalty. Hayes faces life in prison if convicted. Amanda Hayes is expected to go on trial next year.
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