Cardell Hayes was indicted by an Orleans Parish grand jury for a second-degree murder charge in the death of former New Orleans Saints defensive end Will Smith, 19 days after the April 9 shooting. He was also charged with an attempted second-degree murder charge of Smith’s wife Racquel as well as aggravated criminal assault with a firearm and aggravated criminal damage.
Thursday in court was marked with chaos, with Hayes pleading not guilty to all four charges set against him. John Fuller, the attorney for Hayes, was not pleased, to say the least, with the grand jury’s action, firmly believing that preliminary hearing was intentionally delayed by prosecutors to ensure that an indictment would be given before anything else, per USA Today.
According to legal observers, while a testimony was being given in a preliminary hearing on a separate courtroom to decide whether there was probable cause for Hayes’ murder charge, the grand jury has already handed down the indictment in another courtroom, nullifying the validity of the preliminary hearing.
Fuller hurled accusations to the state for stalling the preliminary hearing to make way for what appeared to be a speedy indictment. “In my 14 years practicing, I have never, in the midst of a preliminary hearing, seen an indictment handed down. What happened today was unprecedented,” Fuller said, as reported by ESPN.
“I’m disappointed, but I don’t think anyone that was in the courthouse was surprised.”
Smith’s Mercedes SUV was rear-ended by Hayes’ Hummer H2 on April 9, according to NBC Sports, citing police sources. An argument followed, then Smith was shot eight times with seven bullets lodged on his back, as confirmed by the Orleans Parish coroner.
The Smith’s family attorney, Peter Thompson, said that the family was not surprised by the indictment and believed that the “defendant will be convicted on all counts” as soon as the facts, which will be first unfolded on the May 18 hearing, are laid out.
“While nothing can relieve the pain that Racquel and her family are dealing with, we feel this is a step in the right direction toward justice,” Thompson said.
Also read: Will Smith’s Camp Reveals Details Of His Death, Suspect’s Lawyer Claims NFL Star Intoxicated