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

Former Saints DE Will Smith was shot and killed on early Sunday morning in New Orleans. Mike Florio sends his condolences to Smith's family and discusses just how important he was to the Saints' community.

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.