NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - On the stand Friday in the Will Smith murder trial, retired NOPD Capt. William Ceravolo said his life has been negatively impacted since his best friend was shot and killed on April 9.
Ceravolo told the jury that defense attorney John Fuller's accusations that he tampered with evidence on the scene that night are completely false. He said because of Fuller's statements, he was suspended as an NOPD reserve officer.
Ceravolo said on April 9, he and Pierre Thomas met Will and Racquel Smith and another couple at Sake Café. They then decided to go to the Windsor Court Hotel, and Ceravolo said he left first. He said surveillance video shows him at the hotel at the time of the shooting. While he was at Windsor Court, he said Pierre Thomas called and told him that Smith was dead and Racquel was injured. Ceravolo then headed to the scene.
"It's very frustrating to me, and I'll say now that I met with Mr. Fuller the morning of the preliminary hearing and I told him, 'I have reason to believe my client's on camera. Don't go down this road.' And he chose to ignore it," said Ceravolo's attorney, Tanya Picou.
During cross-examination, Fuller questioned Ceravolo about evidence tampering.
Fuller: "Do you know what a fixer is?"
Cerevolo: "No sir."
Fuller: "So you're not a fixer, right?"
Ceravolo: "No sir."
A pathologist with the coroner's office also took the stand. Dr. Samantha Huber told the jury that Smith was shot eight times - seven times in the back and one to his left side. Prosecutors have argued that the shot to his left side was the initial wound.
When asked about the trajectory of that bullet, Huber said it's consistent with Will Smith standing upright as opposed to leaning over. Prosecutors were trying to dispute claims made by Fuller that Smith was leaning into his Mercedes SUV to get a gun when Hayes shot him.
There is speculation that defendant Cardell Hayes may take the stand in his own defense, although Fuller has not indicated whether that will happen.