Cardell Hayes to stand trial in September
Ken Daley of The Times-Picayune reports that Cardell Hayes will stand trial Sept. 20 on charges that he murdered former Saints defensive end Will Smith and attempted to kill Smith’s wife, a New Orleans judge ruled Friday (June 3).
Criminal District Judge Camille Buras also refused to lower the $1.75 million bond set for the 28-year-old tow truck driver, who is accused of shooting the Smiths following two traffic collisions in the Lower Garden District the night of April 9. Hayes has been jailed since being taken into custody at the scene of the double shooting, which he did not attempt to flee (NOLA.com).
The judge also ruled jurors will get to listen to the recording of a 911 call in which Hayes is heard in the background saying he exited his Hummer SUV with a gun in his Hand (NOLA.com).
In a 4 1/2-hour hearing Friday, prosecutors played publicly for the first time that 911 recording and also a video-recorded statement Hayes gave to detectives at New Orleans police headquarters. In it, Hayes is read his Miranda rights and asks to see a lawyer, but then volunteers several more spontaneous statements, including an assertion that the shooting “was self-defense” (NOLA.com).
Hayes told NOPD homicide detectives Bruce Brueggeman and Tindell Murdock that Will Smith charged at him and struck him three times in the head, despite the fact that Hayes emerged from his orange Hummer H2 with a loaded .45-caliber gun already in his hand (NOLA.com).
Murdock testified he saw no visible injuries on Hayes indicating he had been in a fight. Murdock said Hayes told the detectives he fired his weapon only because Smith had threatened to get his own gun out of his Mercedes-Benz SUV (NOLA.com).
“How can I have my life taken away from me for nothing?” Hayes asked the detectives, referring to the two rear-end collisions that prompted the deadly dispute.
The recorded statement, which defense attorneys John Fuller and Jay Daniels sought to exclude from trial, matched other remarks Hayes unknowingly made moments after the shooting to a different New Orleans police officer at the scene (NOLA.com).
Prosecutors Jason Napoli and Laura Rodrigue contend there is ample evidence that Hayes was the aggressor, and overreacted in a fit of rage after Smith rear-ended his Hummer and drove away as Hayes was pulling over on Magazine Street, a scene captured on surveillance video. Toxicology results returned this week showed Smith’s blood alcohol content at 0.235, virtually three times the limit to legally drive in Louisiana (NOLA.com).
“This is a case of somebody who took a fender-bender, escalated it, and executed William Smith,” Napoli told the judge. “Under some warped theory of the law, he thought he could shoot Will Smith eight times, including seven in the back (NOLA.com).
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