Grand jury indicts man in shooting of ex-Saints player Will Smith

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Friday, April 29, 2016

NEW ORLEANS -- A grand jury has indicted a business owner on a second-degree murder charge in the shooting death of retired New Orleans Saints' defensive end Will Smith.

The indictment was read Thursday. Cardell Hayes also faces charges of attempted second-degree murder because police say he shot and wounded Smith's wife April 9 after they got into a traffic dispute.

Police said Hayes's Hummer hit Smith's Mercedes SUV from behind and they got into an argument.

A lawyer for Hayes has said repeatedly that his client was not the aggressor and that the truth will come out during the investigation. Hayes has been jailed since the shooting.

A lawyer for Smith's family has described Hayes as "enraged" during the shooting and portrayed his clients as the victims.

The indictment was announced during a preliminary hearing in the case.


12 p.m.

A judge is researching whether he can find probable cause for a second-degree murder charge even though prosecutors did not call any witnesses during a preliminary hearing for a man accused of fatally shooting retired New Orleans Saints player Will Smith.

The court was in recess Thursday while Magistrate Harry Cantrell looked into the matter.

Police say Cardell Hayes shot Smith and his wife April 9 during a traffic dispute in New Orleans. Hayes has been jailed since the shooting.

Hayes' attorney John Fuller accused prosecutors of trying to take Hayes to a grand jury proceeding when they knew that Fuller and his co-counsel would be in court on other matters. He says they were trying to "jam an indictment down our throats."

Hayes' attorney told the judge prosecutors cannot prove probable cause without witnesses. Prosecutors contend that entering the arrest warrant and supporting sworn statement as evidence is enough.


This story has been corrected to show that Hayes' attorney told the judge prosecutors cannot prove probable cause without witnesses and that the day of the hearing was Thursday.


2:20 a.m.

Prosecutors will have to present witnesses against the man accused of killing retired New Orleans Saints player Will Smith at a hearing Thursday, unless a grand jury indicts him first.

Police say Cardell Hayes shot the star defensive end and Smith's wife late April 9, killing Smith and hitting Racquel Smith in both legs.

Louisiana felony defendants who haven't been indicted are entitled to a probable cause hearing at which witnesses must be brought forward and can be cross-examined by defense attorneys.

Loyola University-New Orleans law professor Dane Ciolino (see-oh-LEE-noh) says an indictment would cancel the 10 a.m. hearing. And he says he'd be surprised if that doesn't happen.

Hayes was arrested on a charge of second-degree murder and is being held on $1 million bond.

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4/28/2016 1:26:58 PM (GMT -5:00)