A Fort Bend County jury convicted Amanda Perry Hayes of tampering with evidence (human corpse) on Aug. 21, before 400th District Court Judge Maggie Jaramillo sentenced her to 20 years in prison.
The 46 year-old North Carolina woman was previously convicted of second-degree murder in North Carolina for the death of her husband’s ex-girlfriend.
According to Assistant District Attorney Amanda Bolin, Fort Bend County Sheriff’s investigators were called to the 4300 Block of Skinner Lane in Richmond on July 24, 2011. They were alerted that there may be a human body in Oyster Creek at that location. Within a short period of time, investigators located two pieces of a human torso and part of a human lower leg. The following day, with the assistance of the Houston Police Department Dive Team, a human skull and thigh were located.
A few weeks later, a worker with the Gulf Coast Water Authority recovered another human thighbone. As investigators had feared, the remains were later identified to be that of a missing 27-year-old mother of two from North Carolina. Laura Ackerson was reported missing in Kinston, N.C., on July 18, 2011, after disappearing a week earlier. She was last known to be traveling to the home of Grant and Amanda Hayes to pick up her children she shared with Grant Hayes.
Grant and Amanda Hayes were later charged and convicted for the murder of Laura Ackerson. Evidence indicated the couple killed Ackerson in their Raleigh, N.C., apartment, cut up her body, and then transported it in coolers to the home of Amanda Hayes sister in Richmond, Texas. Once in Richmond, the couple first attempted to use muriatic acid to destroy Ackerson’s body. 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.
Amanda Hayes testified at trial that she didn’t kill Ackerson and only helped get rid of her body in Texas because her husband threatened her if she didn’t help. The jury rejected that defense and found her guilty in just an hour and a half.
During the punishment phase of trial, Judge Jaramillo heard from Laura Ackerson’s father as well as a jail supervisor. The defense called Amanda Hayes to the stand, who continued to deny her involvement in the death of Ackerson. Without hesitation, Judge Jaramillo sentenced Amanda Hayes to the maximum possible punishment of 20 years in prison and then ordered that she serve her sentence consecutive to the 13-16 year sentence she already received in North Carolina. Grant Hayes is already serving a life sentence in North Carolina for the murder of Ackerman.
“The jury verdict was swift and the court’s sentence was appropriately harsh,” said Bolin. “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.”
Tampering with evidence to impair its availability in an investigation is a second-degree felony in this case, punishable by two to 20 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000. Assistant district attorneys Bolin and Brandon Draper prosecuted the case.