Jealousy takes many different forms but usually ends in disaster. When you mix jealousy with love and passion, a toxic triangle is formed, and sometimes it cannot be controlled or tamed.
Having already been convicted of murder and sentenced to jail, Amanda and her husband knew they were looking at some hard time for what they did to Grant’s ex-girlfriend. Years later, even more stunning and gory details would be revealed.
While things hadn’t worked out between Grant and Laura, they did share two kids together, who they had joint custody of. The two had never formally been married but were good parents on the whole. When Grant met Amanda, there was more than a little mutual jealousy going on.
The day, back in 2011, had started much like any other for Laura. The kids had been staying with her ex-boyfriend, and his now-wife and Laura was headed over there to pick them up. However, that would be the last time Laura would be seen alive. What happened next was almost unbelievable.
Even though the real motive never came out, even in court, it was obvious that Grant and possibly his wife had wanted to get rid of Laura, with many suggesting that jealousy was the main player. However, after Laura was murdered by Grant, with his wife present he claimed, the two tried to dispose of her body in two ways; both of which shocked and disgusted jury members and even prosecutors.
A press release explained that having killed Laura Ackerson, the couple wasn’t sure how to dispose of the body. “Once in Richmond, the couple first attempted to use muriatic acid to destroy Ackerson’s body,” the release noted, “When that didn’t work, they took a boat onto Oyster Creek and dumped Laura’s body parts into the water with hopes that alligators would eat her remains.”
As if murdering a mother-of-two wasn’t bad enough, neither the acid attempt nor the alligator attempt worked. Having dismembered Laura’s body, the couple assumed the acid would dissolve her remains. When that didn’t work, they were sure that hungry alligators were the answer. When Laura’s torso and leg were found floating in Oyster Creek in Richmond, it was obvious that there had been foul play.
While both Amanda and Grant Hayes had been convicted of murder years ago, the details of how they had killed and disposed of their victim only came out more recently. Amanda was already looking at 13-16 years behind bars for second-degree murder. Grant, however, was looking at a life sentence after being convicted of first-degree murder.
When Amanda Hayes testified in her Fort Bend County trial that she hadn’t killed Laura Ackerson, she claimed that she helped her husband dispose of the body because she was “scared” of what he might do to her if she failed to assist. However, police deputies claimed that Amanda had a “dim view of women” and, as such, was guilty of murder.
When Amanda Hayes stood trial once again due to the new revelations, she was convicted of “tampering with evidence to impair its availability in an investigation.” As that’s a second-degree felony, Judge Maggie Jaramillo sentenced her to 20 years in prison, but to run consecutively with her previous conviction.
The lead prosecutor, Amanda Bolin, spoke to reporters about the case saying, “The jury verdict was swift, and the Court’s sentence was appropriately harsh. Laura Ackerson’s family can be assured that Amanda Hayes will be punished for all of her barbaric behavior – whether it was in North Carolina or the great state of Texas.”
Due to the numerous complexities of this case, a total of 49 witnesses took the stand over 13 days of grueling testimony. The trial ran for more than a month, and the jury of three men and nine women returned its verdict having spent 11 hours in final deliberations. But something about this case affected a lot of people in a very deep way.
It’s not uncommon for murderers and people who do unthinkable things to feel guilty after the act and apologize. Amanda Hayes attempted to do just that in court when she said, “I would just like to apologize with my whole heart, being and soul, personally to Laura. I apologize to her, to her family, to her children, to my family, to Grant’s family, to everyone who had to work this case, to everyone who had to sit through this trial.” She pleaded.
While Laura’s father didn’t believe a word of Amanda’s apology in court, claiming she was a “manipulator and a liar,” Judge Stephens also had some choice words for the convicted woman, saying, “Based upon my view of the evidence, it is quite possible and likely that Amanda Hayes could have saved the life of Laura Ackerson, and she chose not to. She chose, instead, to participate in her killing.”
Amanda’s defense team claimed that she had nothing to do with the murder and was therefore innocent. They testified that it was Grant Hayes alone who cut up Laura’s body, put it in coolers and carried it in a trailer without his wife’s knowledge. She claimed that Grant Hayes coerced her into admitting guilt for a crime she didn’t commit.
Not Her Fault
According to Amanda’s defense attorney, Johnny Gaskins, his client is not guilty, “We’re disappointed Amanda wasn’t acquitted. We believed in Amanda,” he said, “Amanda would never have been in this situation, had it not been for Grant Hayes.” But the prosecutors had a different tune to play.
According to the Assistant District Attorney Boz Zellinger, who also prosecuted Grant Hayes, the jury was right to find Amanda Hayes guilty, “I think the jury rejected her words, and that was the clearest thing that came out today – that her act and her sentences from the witness stand were rejected by the jury,” he said.
She Did It
According to Grant Hayes, it was his wife Amanda who had killed Laura during a heated argument which took place between the two women. However, the defense claimed, Grant Hayes was a “dangerous sociopath who used his wit and charisma to manipulate and control his wife and to take advantage of a large sum of money she received from an inheritance.”
At the time of Laura’s murder, the couple was almost completely broke and were facing imminent eviction from their Raleigh home. Grant had already pawned off various pieces of expensive jewelry belonging to Amanda and possibly wanted to tap into more funds. However, child custody seemed to also be very much at play here.
Defense attorney Rosemary Godwin told the judge, “There is no reason to believe that Mrs. Hayes suffered any less domination and abuse than Laura talked about and discussed in her (child custody) case, albeit it is our position that it was more mental and emotional, and her dynamic was different.”
Cause of Death
One of the most troubling pieces of information missing from this case is how Laura Ackerson died. While it is known that she was doused in acid and then fed to alligators, it’s not known how she was killed in the first place or by who. Obviously, that leaves many unanswered questions for the Ackerson family. As such, her death was ruled to be from “undetermined homicidal violence,” according to the medical examiner.
Even though the details of the murder remain unclear, as neither Grant nor Amanda Hayes wants to admit any guilt, at least justice has been served. While Grant is looking at a lifetime behind bars without parole, Amanda Hayes will also be looking at a cell wall for the foreseeable future. It’s hoped that that fact can at least bring some closure for the family of the victim.