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Ex-NFLer Will Smith's death: Suspect didn't start fight, attorney says

(CNN)Cardell Hayes did not know former New Orleans Saint Will Smith, and he was not the aggressor in the quarrel that ended with Smith dead in the street and Hayes charged with murder, an attorney for Hayes told reporters.

Hayes was the victim of a hit-and-run before his altercation with Smith, lawyer John Fuller said in remarks aired by CNN affiliate WDSU. The person who hit him sped off, and Hayes was trying to make out the license plate of the vehicle before he became involved in the deadly situation with the former NFL star.

According to police, Smith and his wife were in a Mercedes G63 SUV late Saturday when Hayes rear-ended them in his Hummer H2, causing the Benz to hit a Chevrolet Impala carrying some of Smith's acquaintances.

Smith and Hayes "exchanged words" before Hayes shot the former New Orleans Saints defensive captain multiple times and shot Smith's wife in the right leg, police said. Hayes now stands charged with second-degree murder.

Attorney: Hayes 'a lot nicer than he appears'

But Fuller said Sunday that his client's actions tell a different story. Hayes called 911 before the shooting, he secured a witness who was leaving the scene, and he remained at the scene after the shooting until authorities arrived, Fuller said. Police have said they took 4 minutes to reach the scene.

"Now, tell me if that's the behavior that's consistent with someone who's an animal out here looking for blood," he said. "His actions are totally consistent with someone that is complying with a police investigation."

Cardell Hayes is charged with second-degree murder, police say.

He described Hayes as soft-spoken, easily approachable and "a lot nicer than he appears."

Though he didn't provide some details about his client's actions -- he either couldn't or wouldn't say whether Hayes accuses Smith of committing the hit-and-run -- Fuller said the narrative that police have provided the media is not accurate.

"Whether the victim is famous, infamous, popular, unpopular, black, white, Catholic, Baptists, the law applies equally to everyone," he said. "If the law is applied fairly in this case, I think the results are going to surprise a lot of folks."

Will Smith was a force on and off the field

If toxicology tests are conducted "honestly," Fuller said, they will "absolutely" play a key factor in his client's case. He did not elaborate. Police have said toxicology reports won't come back for six weeks.

Source : http://edition.cnn.com/2016/04/11/sport/will-smith-former-new-orleans-saints-player-killed/index.html

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