Attorney declines judgeship to defend Will Smith's accused killer

Attorney John Fuller's press conference, April 13

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Attorney John Fuller has declined his appointment to Orleans Criminal District Court Section D to defend Will Smith's accused killer, Cardell Hayes.

Fuller announced his intentions to the Louisiana Supreme Court on Wednesday.

"I would like to thank this Honorable Court for the opportunity to serve as Judge Pro-Tempore for Section D of Orleans Parish Criminal Court. Unfortunately, due to recent developments in my private law practice, I must decline this appointment," Fuller wrote.

Hayes is accused of shooting Smith and his wife after a crash in the Lower Garden District late Saturday night. Smith died on the scene.

Fuller has said the shooting was in self defense.

At a press conference, Fuller refuted some of the claims by Smith's attorney, Peter Thomson, made earlier in the day - among them, that there was no initial hit and run. Fuller said Smith's Mercedes struck Hayes' Hummer and then pulled off. He said the crash that occurred after that, in which Hayes' hit Smith, was not retaliatory.

Fuller also questioned why two additional guns - one in Hayes' car and one in Smith's - weren't discovered until two days after the killing. He said he also has witnesses who maintain that Smith's gun was visible at the scene, and not in a compartment. He also said he has a female bystander who was at the scene and was now afraid for her life. He said she had agreed to give one last statement so that investigators could get it on the record.

"Cardell Hayes was tried and convicted before I got out of church on Sunday," Fuller said. ..."I don't intend to try this case in the public."

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