Jury selection in trial of man accused of shooting, killing former Saint Will Smith begins Monday

Jury selection in trial of man accused of shooting, killing former Saint Will Smith begins Monday

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Jury selection is set to begin Monday morning, in one of the biggest trials in recent city history.

Cardell Hayes is being prosecuted for the murder of Saints star Will Smith, and the court is expected to be packed.

Smith was a Saints defensive star who helped bring New Orleans it's first and only Super Bowl trophy.

Smith, who retired from football two years ago, was gunned down in the Lower Garden District April 9th, on French Quarter fest weekend, following a traffic collision with Hayes. Smith was out celebrating with family and friends, before being shot eight times, seven in the back. Michael Ferrell says he walked up to the scene just moments after the collision.

"Some people got out of both vehicles and started arguing and the last thing I heard was something about my car and then I heard a bunch of shots," Ferrell said in April.

Hayes, is accused of the second degree murder of Smith, and the attempted murder of Smith's wife, in a tragedy that seems to have stemmed from a near miss on nearby Magazine St. moments before.

"Not only did my client feel threatened, but citizens that were out there in that block felt threatened as well," said Hayes' attorney John Fuller.

The Hayes trial is set to start, just four days after another local football star, Joe McKnight, was gunned down in another apparent road rage case in Jefferson Parish.

"It shouldn't have any impact on the Cardell Hayes case, they are separate cases, if people want to let that emotion come into play it's doing the criminal justice system a disservice," said FOX 8 Legal Analyst Joe Raspanti.

Raspanti says jurors will likely be asked if they can render a fair verdict. But unlike Hayes, Ron Gasser, the admitted triggerman in the McKnight case, was released from custody.  Hayes has been locked up for nearly eight months.

"Mr. Hayes' attorney is going to be constricted by rules of evidence as to what he can talk about and what he can't. Some other set of facts, has nothing to do with it," said Raspanti.

Veteran Orleans judge Camille Buras, will preside over the case.

Judge Buras agreed to a state request to sequester the jurors in a nearby hotel for the duration of a trial, that's expected to draw national attention.

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