The shirt of a former New Orleans police captain does not contain the blood of slain Saints defensive lineman Will Smith, or any blood at all.
So, at least, an Orleans Parish prosecutor said in court Wednesday as an attorney for Smith's accused killer, Cardell Hayes, asked to independently test the stained shirt of former NOPD Capt. Billy Ceravolo.
Ceravolo, a friend of Smith and his wife, had dined with them at Sake Cafe on Magazine Street late on the night of April 9, and he appeared at the scene within minutes of Smith's fatal shooting after a three-car collision shortly thereafter in the Lower Garden District.
Hayes, a 29-year-old New Orleans tow truck driver, is accused of murder in Smith's killing and attempted murder of Smith's wife, Racquel Smith, who was shot once in each leg. His trial is slated to begin Dec. 2.
Criminal District Court Judge Camille Buras granted the request by attorney John Fuller to transfer DNA evidence found on Ceravolo's shirt from a State Police lab to a private forensic lab for testing.
But Assistant District Attorney Jason Napoli's assertion that tests found no blood on the shirt could dampen a bid by Hayes' defense team to show that the former policeman tampered with crime scene evidence.
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At a May hearing, a defense investigator testified that a witness to the shooting told him she saw Ceravolo pluck a gun from Smith's Mercedes SUV as the ex-Saint lay dead in the driver's seat, slumped over the steering wheel.
An attorney for Ceravolo, who turned over the shirt to authorities, said the former police captain believed it was stained with Racquel Smith's blood.
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The attorney, Tanya Picou Faia, has insisted that Ceravolo went to console Racquel Smith as she lay wounded on the sidewalk but never got within six feet of the SUV or Will Smith's body.
Police said a few days after the shooting that a search of Smith's vehicle turned up a handgun, which they said had not been fired.
A critical issue for Hayes' defense is whether Smith was retreating to his vehicle for that weapon when he was shot eight times, including seven shots in his back.
Hayes' attorneys have suggested a cover-up while casting Smith and his party as the aggressors in a loud altercation that preceded the gunfire on Sophie Wright Place.
Fuller and fellow defense attorney Jay Daniels have repeatedly said that Hayes was "legally not guilty" of murder, suggesting he fired under threat.