Lawyer of Will Smith’s ‘killer’ claims he did not know Saints player was shot until next day

The man accused of shooting New Orleans Saints player Will Smith on Saturday idolized the sportsman and collapsed into a chair when he realized who had been shot, his lawyer said.

John Fuller, attorney for 28-year-old Cardell Hayes, said his client did not know that Smith, an NFL defensive end who he looked up to and imitated, had been killed until the day after the shooting.

Fuller told CNN: ‘To be accused of murdering one of your idols is earth-shattering.’

Hayes (pictured at the crime scene) did not realize who had been killed in the shooting until the day after, and when he found out he 'collapsed into a chair', attorney John Fuller said

Hayes was an aspiring footballer, and in 2015 was playing for a local developmental team in New Orleans called the Crescent City Kings.

He was also a top prospect football player in New Orleans at Warren Easton High School in 2004 – the same year Smith was drafted to play with the Saints.

Hayes is accused of shooting Smith seven times in the back and once in the side with a .45 caliber handgun in New Orleans following an argument over a traffic accident.

Hayes is also accused of shooting Smith’s wife, Racquel, once in each leg, leaving her with a shattered femur.

Fuller claims while driving Smith (pictured) rammed into the back of his client before Hayes pursued him in his Hummer. That was followed by another collision which caused the fatal confrontation

According to Peter Thomson, lawyer for Smith’s family, Hayes stood over Smith’s body and yelled as Racquel cowered and tried to crawl away from her husband’s dead body.

Thompson claims that a Hummer being driven by Hayes stopped suddenly in front of Smith, who was driving a Mercedes SUV, at around 11.20pm on Magazine Street which runs through central New Orleans.

Thompson says that Smith maneuvered around the vehicle before driving on with the Hummer now following close behind him.

When Smith next stopped, the Hummer, being driven by Hayes, rammed into the back of his vehicle so hard the rear windshield shattered.

The two men then climbed out of their vehicles and got into an altercation which resulted in Smith being fatally shot.

However, Fuller claims that Smith struck Hayes’ Hummer after it stopped abruptly in the middle of the road before attempting to drive on, which is why Hayes followed him.

CCTV of the incident, released Wednesday, does appear to show two cars matching the descriptions given by police touching bumpers outside a restaurant before the Mercedes drives on.

Fuller also argues that during the confrontation Smith was brandishing a 9mm handgun of his own, and says his client is not ‘legally guilty’ of the shooting.

Thompson denies that Smith was ever carrying a weapon, saying: ‘At no time during this event, to my knowledge at all, did Will Smith ever brandish or carry on his person a firearm.’

He conceded that Smith did have a licence to conceal carry a firearm in New Orleans, but said the fully loaded weapon remained in a compartment in the car during the altercation.

During his professional playing career Smith retained close ties with Utica (pictured), returning often and paying for free football lessons for youngsters through a charitable foundation

Fuller has also alluded to a witness who arrived moments after the shooting, but did not mention what she claims to have seen, saying she fears for her life.

The attorney also indicated that there is film of the moments leading up to the attack, but did not go into further detail.

Hayes is facing second degree murder charges over the shooting and is currently in custody.

On Thursday remembrance services were held for Smith in Utica, New York, where he lived as a child with his grandmother and played football at a high school there.

Thomas R. Proctor High School principal Steven Falchi told TWC News: ‘He will long be remembered as a wonderful student, a hard worker, and someone who gave a tremendous part of himself back to the youth in our community right here in Utica, New York.’

Source: The DailyMail

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