NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - There were new developments Friday in the murder investigation of former Saints player Will Smith. The NOPD has collected a DNA sample from reserve officer Billy Ceravolo. Ceravolo dined with Smith the night of the shooting and he was also at the crime scene.
Ceravolo's attorney, Tanya Picou Faia, said her client voluntarily gave New Orleans police that DNA sample. It was collected Thursday at her office.
"After the preliminary hearing last week, I began to think what can I do to help Captain Ceravolo clear his name from the reckless accusations made against him by Mr. Hayes' defense team," said Faia.
Ceravolo's attorney said she requested the DNA sample be taken to exclude her client from being the donor of any biological evidence that was pulled from Smith's SUV or any material pulled from the gun in his car. Smith was shot and killed April 9. Last week, Cardell Hayes was indicted for Smith's murder and the attempted murder of Smith's wife.
During Hayes' preliminary hearing, there were explosive allegations from the defense's private investigator, who testified a witness saw Ceravolo take a gun from Smith's SUV on the night of the shooting. Ceravolo's attorney has denied those allegations.
"My client is very adamant that not only was he not in the Smith's vehicle that evening, he has never entered that car - ever - so we thought the DNA was a good way to help show that Billy was never in the car," said Faia.
We talked with Loyola legal analyst Dane Ciolino about the case.
"By excluding Mr. Ceravolo to the best that they can do with a DNA test, that will undermine or at least exclude some of the arguments that the defense might make at the trial," said Ciolino.
Ceravolo's attorney also said her client found what he believed to be a spot of dried blood on the shirt that he was wearing the night Smith was killed. Faia said they notified the authorities and asked them to collect that shirt just in case investigators wanted to compare the blood on Ceravolo's shirt to any blood samples that may have been collected from Smith and his wife.
"I would imagine if it does turn out to be Mrs. Smith's blood, than that will corroborate Mr. Ceravolo's version of the events, that is, that he never went near the car, that he only went to attend to Mrs. Smith," Ciolino said.
"When he arrived on the scene of the homicide, he didn't go near the vehicle. I don't even believe that he really took a look at Mr. Smith's body because it was in his mind that that was his friend's body and he didn't want to look at that. He went immediately to Racquel Smith, who was on the sidewalk crying, screaming, and bleeding, and we believe if that is indeed blood on that shirt, that is Mrs. Smith's blood, so, that was handed over well over a week ago," said Faia.
Ceravolo has been removed from the NOPD's reserve division during the investigation.
Hayes faces charges of second-degree murder, attempted second-degree murder, as well as aggravated assault and aggravated criminal damage. We reached out to Hayes' defense attorney, but he has not gotten back to us yet.