Published February 17, 2014
Closing arguments are under way Monday in the first-degree murder trial of a North Carolina woman accused of killing the mother of her husband's two young sons nearly three years ago.
Amanda Hayes, 41, is charged with murder and accessory after the fact to murder in the 2011 death of 27-year-old Laura Ackerson, Fox affiliate WRAL reported.
Ackerson's dismembered remains were discovered in a Texas creek 11 days after the July 13, 2011, homicide.
Hayes took the stand in her own defense last week, telling a jury of three men and nine women that she did not kill her stepchildren's mother and had no involvement in the alleged murder at her Raleigh, N.C., home, according to the station.
Ackerson was involved in a bitter child custody fight with Hayes' husband, Grant Hayes. Amanda Hayes claimed that it was not until six days later that she realized Ackerson had died.
By that time, Amanda Hayes and her husband and the children had taken a trip to see her sister in Richmond, Texas. Grant Hayes was looking get rid of Ackerson's remains, Amanda Hayes told the courtroom.
She said she and her husband were outside late one night when Grant Hayes told her what happened to Ackerson and said, "None of us were going to make it back to North Carolina" if she didn't help him figure out a way to dispose of the body.
"I was freaking out. He had a machete, and he wacked me on the leg and told me to shut the 'F' up and that this was not the time for me to start challenging him," Hayes testified.
Hayes said she did what she was told out of concern for the safety of her young stepsons and two daughters. The following morning, she confessed to her sister that she was responsible for Ackerson's death, WRAL reported.
"I was just really scared. I didn't even know how to tell her," Amanda Hayes told the jury. "I just blurted it out. I told her something really bad happened and I needed her help."
Wake County prosecutors, however, allege that Hayes was resentful of Ackerson because of an ugly child custody dispute between Ackerson and her husband.