The Latest: Witness, prosecutor clash over who was aggressor

AP News
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Posted: Dec 08, 2016 2:45 PM

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The Latest on the trial of Cardell Hayes, charged with second-degree murder in the fatal shooting of former New Orleans Saints star Will Smith (all times local):

1 p.m.

Anger and anguish are evident in a New Orleans courtroom as a friend of the man who killed former Saints star Will Smith continues his testimony.

Kevin O'Neal repeatedly said Thursday that Smith and at least two others charged at him and Cardell Hayes when they exited Hayes' Hummer following an April 9 traffic crash.

Hayes is on trial for second-degree murder.

Audible sobs were heard from the row of spectators where Smith's widow sat with supporters during exchanges between O'Neal and prosecutor Laura Rodrigue (rod-REEG').

O'Neal furiously insisted that Hayes never displayed aggression in the face of Smith's fury. Rodrigue retorted that Hayes never needed to show aggression because he was armed with a handgun.

Earlier, Rodrigue lamented that Smith will miss his son's 8th birthday.

O'Neal replied that the jailed Hayes missed his son's birthday.

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12:30 p.m.

A defense lawyer angrily demanded a mistrial in reaction to a prosecutor's remarks in the trial of the man who fatally shot former New Orleans Saints star Will Smith.

Assistant District Attorney Laura Rodrigue on Thursday was questioning witness Kevin O'Neal, a friend of defendant Cardell Hayes.

Rodrigue said O'Neal once accused defense attorney John Fuller of being a "sellout" who "gets people off on technicalities when they're guilty."

Fuller leapt to his feet and yelled for a mistrial. State District Judge Camille Buras denied the motion and the questioning continued.

O'Neal said the statement was "totally out of context."

Hayes is on trial for second-degree murder. The defense says Hayes shot Smith in self-defense, fearing Smith was fetching a gun from his car amid the chaos that followed an April 9 traffic crash.

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11 a.m.

A friend of the driver on trial for killing former New Orleans Saints star Will Smith told a jury he tried to restrain Smith in the heated exchange of words following an April 9 crash.

Kevin O'Neal was a passenger in the Hummer driven by Cardell Hayes. The Hummer rear-ended Smith's SUV, leading to a confrontation with Smith and his friends and ending in fatal gunfire.

O'Neal said: "I grabbed Mr. Smith and asked him to please chill out."

O'Neal is a prosecution witness, but he's friendly to Hayes, who is on trial for second-degree murder. Hayes' lawyers are building a case for self-defense.

On the stand Thursday, O'Neal painted a scene of post-accident chaos and insisted that Smith and two of his friends were the aggressors.