NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A judge in New Orleans was set to hear arguments Wednesday on whether the New Orleans district attorney’s office should be barred from prosecuting the suspect in the shooting death of retired Saints defensive end Will Smith.
Cardell Hayes is charged with second-degree murder in the case. Defense attorney John Fuller says District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro and his staff should be kicked off the case because he has made baseless accusations of wrongdoing against Fuller.
Judge Camille Buras was scheduled to hear the arguments.
Hayes is set for trial Sept. 20. Prosecutors say he provoked an April 9 confrontation by ramming his SUV into one driven by Smith — after Smith had earlier bumped the rear of Hayes’ vehicle.
Fuller has argued that Smith was the aggressor and that Hayes fired in self-defense after Smith went to his own car to get his gun.
The motion to remove Cannizzaro was made last week following a story in Nola.comThe Times-Picayune on a 206-page report Cannizzaro sent to local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. In the report, Cannizzaro alleges that Fuller and others sought to intimidate witnesses and jeopardized the safety of witnesses in cases unrelated to Smith’s death. The D.A.’s report, which has not been made public, also alleges they are under federal investigation. The local U.S. Attorney declined comment.
Hayes, also faces attempted murder for the wounding of Smith’s wife, who was shot in the legs.