Will Smith shooting: Attorneys spar over gun in vehicle

Story highlights

  • Hayes' attorney says it's "odd" police took days to discover additional weapons
  • Police say they found a loaded gun in Smith's vehicle and another weapon inside the suspect's Hummer
  • Will Smith didn't have a gun in his hand when killed, family lawyer says

New Orleans (CNN)New Orleans police are still investigating the shooting death of former NFL player Will Smith and a trial for the suspect is far from starting.

But already attorneys on both sides are sparring over a piece of evidence: the discovery of a loaded gun inside Smith's vehicle.
    Here's a look at the cases attorneys are making, days after the former New Orleans Saints defensive end was shot dead and suspect Cardell Hayes was charged with second-degree murder.

    Smith's attorney: He never brandished a gun

    Detectives found a fully loaded 9mm handgun inside Smith's Mercedes SUV on Tuesday morning. Investigators also found a fully loaded revolver inside the Hummer H2 driven by Hayes. That brought the total number of weapons in the investigation to three. Police have said a .45-caliber handgun they found at the scene Saturday night was the weapon Hayes used to shoot Smith and his wife.
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    Peter Thomson, an attorney for Smith's family, called a news conference Wednesday afternoon to insist that Smith was not armed when he was killed.
    • "At no time during this event, to my knowledge at all, did Will Smith ever brandish or carry on his person a firearm," Thomson said.
    • Smith was licensed to carry a concealed weapon that may have been inside the vehicle, Thomson said, but he wasn't reaching for it when he was shot.
    • Smith's wife, Racquel, was shot once in each leg and is recovering in a hospital, Thomson said.

    Hayes' attorney: He's been 'prejudged'

    Speaking to reporters, attorney John Fuller repeatedly said Hayes is "legally not guilty."
    • At least one witness saw a gun in Will Smith's possession, Fuller alleged.
    • Fuller questioned why police initially recovered one weapon from the scene, then found two additional weapons inside vehicles involved days later. "I just find it odd that a homicide where a man lost his life, a man who left three children behind, that a gun supposedly isn't recovered until days after the incident," he said.
    Cardell Hayes is charged with second-degree murder.
    • An unidentified witness is alleging she saw something "untoward" happen at the crime scene, according to Fuller. Fuller said the witness arrived "seconds or minutes after the shooting." But he refused to go into details about what she saw, saying she fears for her life.
    • There may be a video of what happened just before the shooting, according to Fuller. "We have reason to believe that a bystander recorded the events immediately prior to gunshots being fired, and that that footage was turned over to New Orleans police on the night that Mr. Smith died," Fuller said. "We want that video, because I know what it's going to show. And it's going to show that my client is legally not guilty."
    • Fuller said the case against his client "is the ultimate example of a person being prejudged."
    "When I woke up Sunday morning, I heard that a former client had been arrested, and by the time I got out of church on Sunday, he had been convicted."

    New details from coroner, police

    Authorities are being tight-lipped about many details in the investigation, but there were several new developments:
    • Smith was shot eight times, according to findings released by the Orleans Parish coroner.
    • Seven of the wounds were in Smith's back and one was in his left side, the report said. Several bullets penetrated vital organs, including his heart and lungs, coroner Jeffrey Rouse said.
    • A toxicology analysis is being done, but results won't be available for six to eight weeks, the report says.
    • Police offered an explanation for why the two additional weapons were not found until Tuesday. "It takes time to process evidence and these types of inventories are done in a very methodical way," spokesman Tyler Gamble said in an email. "Homicide detectives, along with trained Crime Lab technicians and members of the Traffic Fatality Unit processed vehicles yesterday and that's when the additional weapons were found and documented."
    • Gamble said police responded to the scene quickly Saturday night. "We were able to get the scene under control, make an arrest and get the vehicles to a secure place," he said. "We are treating this investigation like we do any other homicide and we are going to follow the investigation where it leads us."
    • The police spokesman said he couldn't confirm whether there was a video showing the moments before the shooting. But he said investigators have canvassed the area for surveillance video. "We are going to do everything we can to build a case," Gamble said. "We can't get into specifics. We are still building an investigation."