NEW ORLEANS (AP) — As trial resumed Saturday for the man who fatally shot retired New Orleans Saints star Will Smith, defense attorneys called more witnesses to bolster their claim that the shooting was a case of self-defense.
Attorneys for Cardell Hayes, 29, say he shot Smith in fear because the retired NFL player was angry, intoxicated and going for a gun after Hayes' Hummer ran into the rear of Smith's SUV on April 9.
Hayes is charged with second-degree murder.
The first witnesses called Saturday were friends of Hayes who said he was in a good mood and was not drinking at a party before the crash. Among Saturday's spectators was Saints coach Sean Payton. Smith was a defensive leader on the Payton-coached Saints team that won the Super Bowl after the 2009 season.
Prosecutors rested their case Friday after nearly a week of hearing from witnesses, including Smith's widow, Racquel, who was hit in the legs by gunfire that night.
She and Smith's former teammate Pierre Thomas were among prosecution witnesses who said Smith's anger seemed to have cooled before the gunfire. But Hayes' passenger in the Hummer insisted that Smith and others with him were the aggressors.
On Friday, friends of Hayes said he was in a joking mood when he showed up at his regular barber shop the day of the shooting. "Always smiling," friend Dwight Harris said.
It's unclear whether Hayes might testify.
Defense attorneys John Fuller and Jay Daniels have maintained that police were quick to jump to conclusions when they arrested Hayes, who cooperated with police and did not leave the scene.
Among the issues at trial is whether Hayes intentionally rammed his Hummer into Smith's SUV. A prosecution expert said Friday it looks as though he did.
Video from businesses on New Orleans' Magazine Street shows Smith's SUV stopping short — perhaps lightly hitting — an orange Hummer driven by Hayes. Moments later and a few blocks away, Hayes' Hummer rear-ended Smith's SUV. The defense says that was an accident.
Hayes got out carrying a handgun, but Smith was unarmed. The defense claims Smith was going for the loaded gun in his SUV when Hayes shot him.