NEW ORLEANS – With work still being done on the autopsy report on retired Saints defensive end Will Smith, attorneys in the criminal case against the man charged in his death agreed Friday to reschedule an evidence hearing.
Shackled, clad in orange prison garb and towering over his attorneys, former semiprofessional football player Cardell Hayes stood and listened quietly as state District Judge Camille Buras set a June 1 evidence hearing. Attorneys said they were waiting for the complete autopsy report and for completion of a supplemental police report on Smith's death.
Hayes was indicted last month on a second-degree murder charge in Smith's slaying. Hayes was also indicted on a charge of attempted second-degree murder because police say he wounded Smith's wife in the shooting.
The shooting occurred after Hayes's Hummer hit Smith's Mercedes SUV from behind on the night of April 9, police have said.
Hayes' defense lawyer, John Fuller, has said Hayes was not the aggressor and that a witness saw a gun in Smith's possession. A loaded gun was found in Smith's vehicle, police said.
A lawyer for Smith's family, Peter Thomson, insists Smith never brandished or carried a gun that night. Thomson has described Hayes as "enraged" during the altercation and portrayed his clients as the victims.
Smith was shot seven times in the back and once along his side, the coroner said. The attorney for Hayes has pointed out that Hayes stayed at the scene of the shooting until police arrived.
The indictment of Hayes on April 28 by a grand jury meeting in secret brought an abrupt end to an open hearing on whether there was cause to hold Hayes in Smith's death. Before that hearing ended, however, a private investigator testified that a witness told him she saw retired New Orleans Police officer William Ceravolo, a friend of Smith's, take a gun from the front seat of Smith's car before investigators arrived. Ceravolo's attorney has since denied that.
Smith was heralded as a leader on the Saints team that rebounded with the hurricane-stricken city and won the Super Bowl after the 2009 season. He stayed in the area after his 2012 retirement and was active with various charities in his adopted city.
Hayes owns a tow-truck company and last year played in a semiprofessional football league.