'Stand Your Ground' law looms over Smith shooting case

'Stand Your Ground' law looms over Smith shooting case

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Defense attorney John Fuller and the Smith family attorney, Peter Thomson, tell very different versions of what they say happened the night former Saints player Will Smith was shot 8 times and died.

"Not only did my client fell threatened, but citizens that were out there in that block felt threatened as well," Fuller said.

"I'm aware of nothing Will Smith did that would cause this killer to be afraid of his life," Thomson said.

The specific wording used by both attorneys may not have been by accident.

Louisiana's 'Stand your Ground' law could be looming over the Will Smith shooting case.

"It says that if someone is scaring you enough to make you think reasonably that you're in danger of death or bodily harm you can use force, shooting them for example, and you do not have to retreat. You can stand your ground and fire away," said FOX 8 Legal Analyst Joe Raspanti.

Shooting suspect, Cardell Hayes' attorney has indicated Hayes committed justifiable homicide within the law.

"Cardell Hayes is legally not guilty," Fuller said.

The Smith family attorney, Thomson indicated Hayes was not justified.

"It's all about the state of mind of the shooter, and would it be deemed to be reasonable to take the action that the shooter took," Raspanti said.

Police say after Hayes slammed his Hummer into the back of Smith's SUV, the two exchanged words before the shooting.

Ultimately, it may come down to who was the aggressor.

"If you're the aggressor and you put yourself in the position of danger, then you don't have the right to use deadly force," Raspanti said.

Fuller has maintained Hayes was not the aggressor, but Thomson describes it differently.

"He is yelling at Will and he had his hands up, yelling and making symbols. He was enraged," Thomson said.

According to the law, the aggressor cannot claim self-defense unless he or she withdraws from the conflict in good faith. Fuller says Hayes and others felt threatened. Thomson says the dispute over Hayes ramming Smith's SUV had been diffused before Hayes fired the first shot.

"He would follow them after the situation has been diffused and raised his gun and shoot his wife in the side, not the front but the side of one leg and then the side of another leg. Then shot Smith in the back 8 times," Thomson said.

"So much occurred prior to this actual incident that will shed light on everything," Fuller said.

While this case has already seemed to play out in the public, FOX 8 legal analyst Joe Raspanti says witness testimony in court will be the only thing that will lead to a guilty or not guilty verdict.

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