Attorneys offer conflicting views of what led to shooting of Will Smith

Attorney John Fuller's press conference, April 13
Published: Apr. 14, 2016 at 2:15 AM CDT|Updated: Jun. 29, 2016 at 8:57 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - An attorney for shooting suspect Cardell Hayes said witnesses claim they saw Will Smith with a gun in hand, before he was killed. That version came hours after an attorney for the Smith family said Hayes intentionally gunned down both Will Smith and his wife.

"Cardell Hayes was tried and convicted before I got out of church on Sunday," defense attorney John Fuller said Wednesday evening.

Fuller, who is representing Hayes, said he doesn't want the murder case tried in the public. Yet Wednesday consisted of a press conference first from the Smith family attorney, then Fuller, each offering differing views of what transpired Saturday night.

"I think there has to be a little silence going forward so this thing isn't played out in the media and is done the correct way," FOX 8 legal analyst Joseph Raspanti said.

Peter Thomson, who represents the Smith family, said the night Will Smith was killed started out as a fun gathering with friends for the former Saints player and his wife, Racquel.

"They're driving down Magazine Street, and suddenly, right in front of them, an orange Hummer with dark tinted windows comes to a stop, a sudden stop right in front of them," Thomson said.

Thomson downplayed what looked like a minor hit and run in surveillance video and said the Smiths, minutes later, were rear-ended on Sophie Wright Place by the Hummer police say was driven by Cardell Hayes.

"He is yelling at Will, yelling and cursing and he had his hands up, shaking them and making signals, and was enraged," Thomson said.

Thomson said the Smiths eventually diffused the situation and returned to the SUV, but before they could get away, Hayes opened fire.

"Suddenly, two shots are fired. She is shot immediately in both legs. Moments thereafter, the killer unloads six to eight shots into Will's back," Thomson said.

Yet Hayes' attorney said Hayes felt threatened on the scene, and witnesses tell him they saw a gun in Will Smith's hands.

"Witnesses saw the gun, yes," Fuller said.

Fuller explained that one woman, a bystander, even claims she saw something happen on the scene regarding the gun that now has her very concerned.

"A witness that I have saw untoward activity and has become fearful and communicated with me this morning that she doesn't want to testify publicly," Fuller said.

Regarding the 9-millimeter police found inside Smith's vehicle, Peter Thomson said, "That firearm I understand was in the vehicle, never taken out by Will Smith, never brandished, and never fired."

Despite the back and forth between the attorneys Wednesday, Raspanti said it's very important to remember one thing.

"This isn't testimony, this is just lawyers talking. This doesn't count. What counts is what police find out, what witnesses say from the stand, the ballistics tests, what the coroner's exam shows and what eyewitnesses may have seen - that's what a case is about," Raspanti said.

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