Cardell Hayes’ lawyer claims his client “was not the aggressor”

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Like so many other crimes, the death of former Saints defensive end Will Smith seems on the surface to be a case of murder. But Cardell Hayes, like every other person facing criminal charges in the American criminal justice system, is entitled to a defense. And his lawyer, John Fuller, already has begun the process of trying to lay the foundation for claiming, eventually, that Hayes acted in self defense.

“My client is of the opinion that toxicology should be conducted of all the parties that were involved in this, and that will shed some light on the behavior of some of the participants,” attorney John Fuller told a group of reporters on Sunday, via a video posted by the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

“We know Will Smith was coming from a restaurant,” a reporter asked Fuller. “Does that have something to do with that? Is that what you’re saying?”

“Quite possibly,” Fuller said.

“Do you think Will Smith or somebody else may have been intoxicated in this event?”

“Well, I know that there were parties that were intoxicated or under the influence of some type of mind-altering substance, based on appearances,” Fuller said. “We don’t know that for sure, but we have a strong suspicion that that was the case.”

“Did anyone else have a gun other than your client?”

“It’s possible that one of the parties involved had a gun,” Fuller said.

“Did Mr. Hayes say he feared for his life?”

“Well, I don’t want to go into details what my client said, but I’ll say this,” Fuller said. “The reports that we’ve heard so far that were on television and various news outlets were not consistent with everything that happened, and I can tell you that my client was not the aggressor in terms of the behavior that happened after the accident.”

It’s one thing for Fuller to claim it; it’s quite another for him to eventually prove it. However, it’s already clear that Cardell Hayes will, through John Fuller, be attempting to minimize his ultimate criminal liability.

94 responses to “Cardell Hayes’ lawyer claims his client “was not the aggressor”

  1. The guy that shot the other one is guilty of murder. Don’t carry a gun if you don’t want to be responsible for your actions. The guy sitting in his car was obviously not the aggressor. Defense attorneys are paid to say their client is innocent. Why do you think Johnny Cochran is a household name?

  2. Hayes: “I didn’t start the fight, so it’s not my fault that I shot him and his wife, right?”
    Lawyer: “Please don’t say anything.”
    Hayes: “But, but he said some bad stuff at me.”

    RIP Will Smith

  3. Sounds like Will Smith had been drinking during dinner and he drew a gun on the guy who accidently rear-ended him and that guy happened to have a gun also and he defended himself.

  4. That didn’t take long. Since when can you ever believe what a lawyer says? I’d like to see how he attempts to defend his client’s innocence. It’s going to be hard to classify Smith as the aggressor if he was shot while still in his car.

  5. Do we know Will Smith didn’t have a gun? Do we know he wasn’t drunk? So we know he didn’t make threats? We do know Mr. Hayes stayed at the scene, indicating he is more than willing to tell his tale and face the consequences. It is a horrible incident in which cooler heads should have prevailed. But for all of us without the facts, let the justice system do its job.

  6. Are we to believe that Will Smith backed his vehicle into Cardell Hayes and then ran into the car in front of him? This caused Smith to be the aggressor and end up being shot in the back?

    Just saying?

  7. Sure. In cold blood he shoots a man who remained in his vehicle with his wife. Some aggressive move.

  8. So not being the aggressor, he shoots Will Smith’s wife a few also??? Give me a break!
    Wish the lawyer backs into Hayes’ Hummer to see what ‘not the aggressor’ looks like close up…

  9. Last I checked the man with the gun would be the aggressor but then again we are dealing with a just crawled from under the rock defense attorney

  10. Why’d he shoot Smith’s wife then? Plus the guy is 6-5, I doubt he was fearing for his life against someone that was a similar size.

  11. Lots of people in this thread acting like they know everything that went down. Let this play out and let’s see what comes out.

  12. Oh and justice??? Give this fool to ISIS with a pork chop sandwich tied around his neck….

  13. “Self defense is a hard defense to cop when you shot him IN THE BACK”

    Works for American policemen!

  14. Nobody knows the whole story. It’s sad this happened but what if will smith was the aggressor. Will is what 6 foot 4 280-300 pounds maybe dude was afraid for his life it works for police correct. I mean they are the only ones who can shoot unarmed people over fear for their lives

  15. Its amazing to me how no one including myself who has posted has any idea what happened that night yet you all have it figured out enough to cast judgement or jokes….the human race is a disease.

  16. Guessing here that Hayes has a criminal history, which could only explain the multiple shots because nobody claiming self defense would fire that many shots.

  17. Maybe Will pulled out a gun & the guy shot him, also hitting his wife.
    I’m sure not every shot was aimed correctly, like a sniper shot.
    Just sayin.
    Either way – someone is dead and the loss of life is tragic.

  18. I wasn’t there and don’t know all the facts but I will say it is odd that the killer stayed at the scene until the cops arrived, he didn’t flee, what also is not clear is what happened to the people in the Impala? They were friends of Smith but no mention of what they were doing before during and after Smith was shot…..IMO more to this story than when know…..

  19. guy is dead wife is shot..both in the car they were driving…i don’t care how angry will smith was. .unless he can kill you by yelling at you then shooting him to DEATH makes you the aggressor

  20. therealraider
    Apr 10, 2016, 8:59 PM EDT
    Sounds like Will Smith had been drinking during dinner and he drew a gun on the guy who accidently rear-ended him and that guy happened to have a gun also and he defended himself.

    Where the hell did you get that from? No one has said that he was drunk and no one has said that he had a gun. His lawyer insinuated that he may have been drinking because he was at a restaurant. I love how you were able to paint a picture with such certainty.

  21. therealraider says:
    Apr 10, 2016 8:59 PM

    “Sounds like Will Smith had been drinking during dinner and he drew a gun on the guy who accidently rear-ended him and that guy happened to have a gun also and he defended himself.:

    Thank you! Wayne LaPierre.

  22. If I were rear-ended and it sent me into the back of someone else’s car, hell yeah, I’m gonna be kinda ticked. And I think most of us on this thread would be, too. I’d at least ask the guy who hit me, ”What happened?”, because the guy I hit is going to ask me the same question.
    You exchange insurance info, you call the police, you tell the officer your side of the story, and then get a tow truck. You don’t just start shooting someone.
    Unless the ex-player slammed on the brakes in front of you (and there doesn’t seem to be anyone backing that theory up), YOU are at fault!
    Good luck making money off this sucker, defense lawyer, Your client’s gonna enjoy living at the Hotel Louisiana in Angola.

  23. Well, this would be why we have a criminal justice system. Hayes shot Smith. That’s about all we know and all we’re really going to know until the trial.
    The very first time someone in Texas with a concealed carry license shot someone else it revolved around a road rage incident. The headlines screamed, “First Concealed Carry Killer Murders Man In Traffic Dispute.” Then the facts came out; the dead guy forced the shooter off the road; the dead guy walked from his car to the shooter’s window; the dead guy put the shooter – who was still buckled in – into a headlock and beat him in the face so severely that the shooter suffered retinal tears; only then did the shooter defend himself with a single shot – because he was so close to the dead guy that the slide hit the shooter in the chest and prevented a second round from loading. The shooter was arrested, went before a grand jury and was no billed….because the shooting was clearly justified.
    Maybe Smith threatened and/or attacked Hayes. Maybe Smith did absolutely nothing to merit Hayes’ attack. Maybe Smith’s wife got involved. Maybe she was still sitting in her seat, buckled in. The bottom line is that we don’t yet know what happened. Hayes’ lawyer is going to try to claim self defense and either he has a case or he doesn’t. Fine. The DA will establish the facts and a jury will decide whether Hayes acted in defense or whether he was the aggressor.
    As someone who carries a handgun whenever I’m not at work (schools frown on that sort of thing), I can tell you that if I were on that jury I’d be listening carefully for anything Hayes did to escalate the situation. Did he get out of his car? Did he yell at Smith or his wife? Did he approach Smith or his wife? Did he gesture at Smith or his wife? Did he threaten Smith or his wife? If Hayes did any of those things it would be harder for me to vote “not guilty” and the more of them he did the easier it would be for me to vote “guilty”.

  24. Who knows what happened but man you guys sure do assume a lot. How do you know Smith wasn’t out of his car trying to attack the guy, the guys starts shooting because Smith was huge, he hits him and his wife, Smith then got back in to his vehicle and died. What if we find out Smith had a gun but didn’t fire…..Now all of that being said it probably happened the way we all assume it did but let the thing play out.

  25. Even if he wasn’t the aggressor self defense is doing minimal damage or harm the other person. Just enough to ensure your safety. I highly doubt that the situation called for him to shoot will Smith several times and not to mention his wife. It was no longer self defense when he became the attacker. Sorry bro but you are gonna lose this one.

  26. This could also all be a result of our masoganistic tendancies. The lawyer said Hayes was not the aggressor. That doesn’t mean Will Smith was. What if his wife had a gun and pulled it? That would explain the shooting in the back. Will would have turned toward her to shield her, thus exposing his back to the shooter. Also explaining why she was shot too.

  27. Fuller is a fine example why we should close half of the law schools and replace them with med schools….what do we need more; lawyers making up stories or more doctors?

  28. This guy does know there’s a living witness right? When Ms. Smith gets on the stand sobbing about how her husband was just trying to talk to the guy when the guy whipped out a gun and shot him is going to destroy the self-defense theory.

  29. This guy is going to end up in the courtroom of one of the many die hard Saints fan judges. There is a group that travels to various away games and are decades long season ticket holders.
    Cardell Hayes murdered a man and he is going to spend the rest of his life in jail.

  30. There is something very strange about this case. The guy didn’t leave the scene. He knew what he did, and stayed at the scene waiting for the cops. The “facts” of all of you posting are made up. Not that much info has been released. It amazes me how many people who were “shot in the back” never end up with entry wounds to the back. You know, like Michael brown who was shot in the back (only he wasn’t), and Trayvon Martin who was shot in the back (only he wasn’t), etc. you get the point. Let’s wait for real facts, disseminated from the investigation

    According to you that have it figured out, he rear ended Smith, got out, shot him through the window (amazingly in the back???), walked around the vehicle, shot his wife in the leg twice, smiths buddies decided to not do anything, and then the cops showed up… Right… Clear as mud

  31. What a shock — a criminal defense attorney is claiming his client was actually the victim.

  32. Sounds like the guy pointed gun through window, smiths reaction would be to turn his head away which is why he was shot in back and torso, and his wife was hit by inaccurate shots in the leg. No excuse will get him off completely. Most likely manslaughter charge and 5-10.

  33. Apparently there’s much more to this story than most realize.

    Check the ‘My client was not the aggressor’ story on noladotcom.

    One thing that can’t be argued – it’s tragic :-(.

  34. Right, so shooting someone who is drunk is now acceptable! What is next? If you breath hard at someone you deserve to be shot too.

    Gun people are out of control in this country I don’t care what people say way too many innocent non gun carrying people are dying at the hands of gun carriers so the rest of America can feel happy about “Their rights to carry” What about the rights of innocent people dying at the hands of these idiots?

  35. “Self defense is a hard defense to cop when you shot him IN THE BACK”

    “Works for American policemen!”

    You mean like Michael Brown? Oh wait….that was a complete lie.

  36. “It’s possible that one of the parties involved had a gun.”

    Really Captain Obvious? Do you think that, given there’s no dispute that your client shot two people, you could maybe upgrade that to “It’s probable that one of the parties involved had a gun”?

  37. A life would have been spared if no gun was carried and involved. We have our rights to possess guns but fewer lives would be lost if people weren’t so quick to pull them out. In such situations people irrationally confuse a fight with “fearing for their lives”. Now someone is dead and another is going to prison. All over a traffic accident.

  38. I really feel for Will’s three children having growing up with out their father. If this man is guilty of murder I hope he is dealt the maximum sentence for his crime. I wasn’t there so I don’t know what happened but Mr. Smith has not always been able to control his temper. If I remember correctly he was charged with spousal abuse after dragging his wife across a street by her hair. I think the incident happened in 2010 and the charges were dropped because the wife said it was a misunderstanding…

  39. So according to this lawyer, his client who drove a hummer, rammed it into Will Smith’s small car, then proceeded to shoot an unarmed man wasn’t the aggressor? Got it

  40. “Did anyone else have a gun other than your client?”

    “It’s possible that one of the parties involved had a gun,” Fuller said.

    One of the parties did indeed, your client. We don’t know about anyone else yet.

  41. This feels like the opportune time to link to that Boondocks clip but this is probably not the site for that.

    Plus details unknown and all that.

  42. Any other country in the civilized world and this idiot would be going to jail for life. You can’t just shoot somebody because he “was the aggressor”. Only in America.

  43. In the report I read from the NOPD, the only gun found at the scene was Haye’s. Case closed.

  44. Will Smith was killed by you with your gun, sitting in his car with his wife.
    Nobody gives a damn what his lawyer says..this ain’t some stupid ass OJ jury, this boy is going to jail..period.
    If you think anything different, you do not understand the Louisiana judicial system.

  45. Lawyers can say whatever they want, but if you’re in a minor fender bender and you jump out of the vehicle with a gun in your hand, you’re the aggressor.

  46. Lets say Will Smith was the aggressor. So why did he shoot his Smith’s Wife also. Did you fear for your life from her.

  47. “My client wasn’t the aggressor, he’s merely clumsy. Shell casings just fall at his feet.”

  48. This is how many people solve their problems but to appease them many give them an excuse for behaving in this manner. When will we put the blame where it belongs on the individual not on the white race.

  49. Florio, Fuller won’t have to prove it. He will cease representing Hayes on Monday. I read the Nola article someone recommended in the comment section, and Fuller is claiming Hayes called the police before the shooting in an attempt to get help for the hit and run incident that happened before the shooting. Fuller also claims that Hayes, while waiting for the police to show up after the shooting, flagged a witness and made sure the witness stayed there until the cops showed up. If all of those claims check out, it will be interesting to see how this unfolds.

  50. To all the posters making all these assumptions, just remember the Press has a long history of inaccuracies in providing details on many of these crime stories. Michael Brown in Ferguson MO being just the latest.

    Not everything you read in the newspaper is factual but it is considerably more difficult to sell hog wash in front of a jury.

  51. A man is shot multiple times in the back, and his wife is shot as well. Yeah, he’s the aggressor. Give me a frickin’ break! Rest in peace Will Smith. My heart goes out to your family. Hopefully, the jury won’t be stupid!

  52. So that gives you the right to shoot somebody in cold blood and then shoot his wife??????? Man, I just don’t like where our society is going.

  53. The anti-gun people are laughable. There is no surety that Hayes was legally in possession of the gun. He had charges in 2014 of illegal carrying of a weapon and drug paraphernalia. So lets not start with the “gun carriers are killing people” story because that simply isn’t true.

    If Smith was in fact shot while sitting in his suv, it will be very hard for Hayes Lawyer to make Smith the aggressor, especially if there was no weapons in Smith’s car. You can’t shoot someone over words, weather they are intoxicated or not. Period, end of story.

  54. Regardless of who was at fault one life is gone and another ruined. Three kids are going to grow up without their father, that’s the real tragedy.

  55. titansfan1950 says:

    We do know Mr. Hayes stayed at the scene, indicating he is more than willing to tell his tale and face the consequences.

    His Hummer was at the scene. I’m sure he knew he wasn’t going to take off running, leave his vehicle there with most likely many witnesses and get away with it.

  56. You “anti-gun” people are crazy if you think this ex-felon shooter had a gun legally. No he didn’t … he is a bad guy with a gun, which is exactly why law-abiding citizens feel the need to protect themselves from these bad guys with guns. I fully support your right to choose whether you want to protect yourself and your family. But your choice doesn’t negate every other American’s Constitutional rights.

  57. Bottom line is, a 34 year old man is dead, because he was shot for no sensible reason. Now his 3 kids are fatherless and his wife (also shot) is a widow, in a crime that was senseless. How tragic! My heart goes out to the Family of Will Smith. When will the violence and man’s inhumanity to man stop? Yes I am a Saints fan, so that makes the pain even deeper.

  58. Just because there is a mountain of evidence to prove guilt beyond any doubt, doesn’t mean the guy will get convicted.

    The only evidence the prosecution didn’t have in the OJ Simpson canes was a video of him doing it and a signed confession. Other than that, the prosecution had enough evidence to convict without doubt. Cochran lead the jury down a different path to a different trial and OJ walked.

    The shooter targeted Smith and executed him. He had a plan in place before the incident. Too much coincidence required to make this crime a case of road rage, self defense or anything else. The case should be a slam dunk and the option of 1st degree murder should be on the table for the jury, unless you aren’t allowed to do that in Louisiana.

  59. No one knows exactly what happened. He was shot in the back? How do you know? He was in the car? How do you know? Maybe Smith bum rushed him a la Michael Brown and yes, the guy felt threatened. Getting out of your car with a gun isn’t “aggression” unless you have it unholstered maybe. If it’s just on your person, not aggression at all. The other person can’t even see it.

    In any case, let’s let the wheels of justice figure out what happened before we hang this man.

  60. Man, I hope the Smith family lawyer eats this guy for breakfast…..

    “Well, I know that there were parties that were intoxicated or under the influence of some type of mind-altering substance, based on appearances,” Fuller said. “We don’t know that for sure, but we have a strong suspicion that that was the case.”

    He states “I know” but then follows up with “We don’t know that for sure.” He should know better than to make a statement of “I know.” I’m not even a lawyer, and I even I am aware of that simple guideline to avoid trapping yourself in a mess. Always use statements like “we believe” or or something less definitive. It is also difficult to promote your client’s innocence when you try and discredit a dead person in the media either.

    Regardless of the circumstances of the incident, this guy is not a good lawyer to his client already.

  61. He doesn’t have to prove that he wasn’t the aggressor. The court has to prove that he was. Or is that not part of the whole, “Innocent until proven guilty” mantra?

  62. Aggressor or not you killed another person and you’re going to prison. Splitting hairs on who started it is just a waste of time in this case.

  63. Looking at those pictures it appears as if Will Smith was getting back into his vehicle when he was shot. His left arm is draped over the steering wheel and both feet are outside on the ground. The wife likely gets hit sitting in the passenger seat.

    I think the aggressor comment is just the defendant hoping this doesn’t become a 1st degree.

    You don’t fire that much ammo into someones back in self defense.

  64. to those making references or inferences that mr smith had a gun or went for a gun. the NOLA has been investigating since the minute this happened and at NO TIME has there been any mention of a gun or any other evidence to support that a gun has been found.
    to say so or to infer so is to ignore what the evidence IS.
    To automatically think this guy is innocent after he shot 2 people killing 1 of them is just ignorant.
    the accused is entitled to a defense but inferring someone might have had a gun is nothing more than subjective opinion and NOT evidence.
    how can we as a society automatically jump to the defense of a man who admitted murder? pretty scary if you asked me

  65. He doesn’t have to prove that he wasn’t the aggressor. The court has to prove that he was. Or is that not part of the whole, “Innocent until proven guilty” mantra?
    All the court has to prove is that Hayes shot Smith, not even Hayes’ lawyer is disputing that.
    So the only thing left to decide is if it is murder in the 1st degree or 2nd.
    It appears that Smith was getting back into his vehicle so why was Hayes shooting when he should have been dialing 911? Further investigation will provide the answer.

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