NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) - Day two of the Cardell Hayes murder trial began with emotional testimony from an eyewitness who said Hayes was “evil sounding” as he taunted former New Orleans Saints player Will Smith immediately after shooting him.
WGNO reporter Jacki Jing covered the proceedings on Twitter as prosecutors called their first witness, Rebecca Dooley. This is a report of the prosecution's questioning of Dooley.
Dooley and her husband Richard Hernandez were passengers in Smith’s silver SUV the night two alleged collisions led to a confrontation with Hayes that ended with Smith’s shooting.
Dooley said she met and quickly befriended Smith’s wife, Racquel, when their daughters played basketball together.
Taking the stand this morning, Dooley’s testimony laid out her version of the events that transpired.
The night of the shooting, Dooley testified she and Hernandez joined the Smiths at French Quarter Fest, stopping at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse and Barcadia for drinks on the way back from the festival.
After Barcadia, the two couples went to Sake Cafe on Magazine Street. Will Smith was driving, Hernandez was in the passenger seat, and Raquel and Dooley were seated behind their respective husbands, according to Dooley’s testimony.
Smith slammed on his brakes on Magazine Street when the driver of an Orange Hummer in front of Smith’s vehicle slammed on his.
Dooley said she didn’t think the two vehicles had collided. Smith turned right on Sophie Wright Street, and the Hummer followed.
“I said ‘he’s following us, I think he’s going to hit us,’” Dooley said on the stand. “I said it right before the impact. As I was saying it, we were hit. Then the back glass of the SUV shattered.”
Smith and Hayes exited their vehicles and began arguing over who had hit whom, Dooley said.
Raquel Smith got between the two men, and Dooley said she felt that diffused the situation. Then she saw the passenger in Hayes’ vehicle staring at Hernandez, so she moved between them to prevent a fight.
After Hayes’ passenger took a swing at Hernandez, tensions eased a bit and it seemed like the altercation had ended, Dooley said.
“I felt like the argument was over,” she testified. “It seemed like Will was going to call the police.”
In response to a prosecutor's question about whether she heard anyone say anything about a gun, Dooley said no.
Then she described the shooting itself.
“I see Mr. Hayes walking towards Will with a gun pointed toward him,” she said. “I see Will’s body jolt. I hear ‘he’s shooting!’ from Raquel.”
Through tears, Dooley said Will Smith fell into the car, and he wasn’t moving.
“Hayes said over Will’s body ‘look at you now, you were showing off,’” she said.
Dooley said Hayes showed no remorse and he described him as “evil sounding.”
She and her husband hid behind a fence and some bushes and called 911 just before Dooley said she heard Raquel Smith say that she had been shot.
In response to a prosecutor's question about if Will Smith ever reached into the door of his SUV to grab something, Dooley said no, and added that Smith was facing his vehicle and was not inside it.
Stay tuned for more information as the case continues to unfold.