*Weeks after the death of former New Orleans Saints player Will Smith, the man allegedly responsible for the tragedy has been indicted.
The Times-Picayune reports that Cardell Hayes has been indicted on the charge of second-degree for Smith’s murder as well as the attempted second-degree murder of the athlete’s wife, Racquel Smith, aggravated criminal damage to a vehicle and aggravated assault.
Hayes’ indictment occurred during a probable cause hearing scheduled at the same time, as witnesses called by the defense testified about the April 9 double shooting of the Smiths.
Twenty-four witnesses — including Smith’s former teammate Pierre Thomas — were subpoenaed for the hearing by Hayes’ attorneys, John Fuller and Jay Daniels. Fuller and Daniels are noted for their criticism of the investigation in light of their client’s arrest at the Lower Garden District after the shooting,
With Hayes’ indictment, District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro’s office will be able to keep some of the evidence in their case under wraps for longer. According to The Times Picayune, many of the witnesses Hayes’ attorneys planned to call were subpoenaed for grand jury proceedings around the same time Thursday.
Regarding the shooting of Racquel Smith, Hayes’ indictment solves the question of why New Orleans police had not yet charged Hayes. Commenting days after the shooting, NOPD spokesman Tyler Gamble said charges were pending against Hayes in connection to Racquel Smith’s shooting.
Racquel Smith, who was shot once in each leg, attended her husband’s funeral in a wheelchair. Although they had the chance to charge Hayes in Racquel Smith’s shooting, prosecutors opted to allow the grand jury to determine whether or not to charge Hayes, nearly three weeks after the high profile shooting.
News of Hayes’ indictment marks the latest development in the Smith case, which police say resulted after the former NFL player was fatally shot shortly before 11:30 p.m. April 9 after a traffic crash in the Lower Garden District.
The department stated that Hayes’ Hummer H2 rear-ended Smith’s Mercedes SUV. After an argument between Smith and Hayes, things got violent. Smith was shot seven times in the back and once in the chest, according to Orleans Parish Coroner Dr. Jeffrey Rouse.
Whether Smith was in possession of a gun when Hayes opened fire is among a slew of questions that remain at the center of the case.
Peter Thomson, an attorney for the Smith family, mentioned a gun police said was found in Smith’s SUV remained in a compartment of the vehicle the night of the shooting.
Fuller countered Thomson, suggesting that he can produce a witness who will dispute Thomson’s claims. At this time, police have been silent on where in the vehicle Smith’s gun was located.
While they don’t dispute that Hayes pulled the trigger, Fuller and Daniels have continued to state they can prove Hayes is “legally not guilty” of murder, “suggesting — but not expressly saying — the shots might have been fired in self-defense.”
For his part, Thomson mentioned to reporters that Hayes killed Will Smith in “cold blood,” yelling has he stood over Smith’s body after shooting him.