Attorney for suspect in Will Smith death says DA wanted to avoid preliminary hearing

Attorney for suspect in Will Smith death says DA wanted to avoid preliminary hearing

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Defense attorney John Fuller said he's never seen an indictment happen so fast.

A grand jury indicted Cardell Hayes on second-degree murder in the death of former Saints player Will Smith, attempted second-degree murder in the shooting of Smith's wife, Racquel, aggravated assault and aggravated criminal damage. The indictment was returned in the middle of a preliminary hearing.

Fuller accused the district attorney's office of doing everything it could to stop the preliminary hearing Thursday. The office filed a writ in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, which was denied Thursday morning. Fuller then said the D.A.'s office had Hayes transferred to testify before the grand jury without his knowledge. Fuller had Hayes transferred back to court before that could happen.

Before the hearing came to an abrupt ending, a private investigator took the stand and said a witness saw reserve NOPD officer William Ceravolo take a gun from Smith's SUV on the night of the shooting. Ceravolo's attorney denies those allegations.

Hayes' family members filled the courtroom to support him. The Smith family attorney was there, as well. He said they're happy about the indictment and not surprised about the charges.

Hayes pleaded not guilty to the four-count indictment. His bond was set at $1.75 million.

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