Former Saints lineman Will Smith was far past the level of legal intoxication when he was shot to death following a three-car crash in the Lower Garden District in early April, a source close to the case said Tuesday.
The source confirmed that a toxicology test found Smith’s blood-alcohol level was about three times the legal limit of .08 percent the night he was killed, a result first reported Tuesday by Nola.com.
Smith, 34, was driving his Mercedes SUV downriver from Sake Cafe on Magazine Street late on April 9 when security video shows he bumped the back of an orange Hummer H2.
Smith drove off as the Hummer pulled to the curb. Cardell Hayes, who was at the wheel of the Hummer, then followed for two blocks before hitting the rear of the Mercedes, which then struck a Chevy Impala in front of it.
According to witnesses, several people emptied out of the three cars and a loud altercation took place before gunfire erupted on Sophie Wright Place.
Smith was found dead in the driver’s seat of his vehicle, shot eight times, seven in the back. His wife, Racquel, was shot twice, once in each leg.
Hayes, a 28-year-old tow truck driver and semi-pro football player, stayed on the scene and was booked on second-degree murder. A state grand jury indicted him in late April on various charges.
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Hayes has pleaded not guilty. His attorneys argue that he was not the aggressor and was “legally not guilty.”
Three days after Hayes was booked in Smith’s killing, an attorney for Racquel Smith, Peter Thomson, insisted Will Smith was not inebriated “to the point where he could not drive.”
Thomson could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
Dr. Jeffrey Rouse, the Orleans Parish coroner, said at the time that toxicology results could take six to eight weeks. Rouse declined to comment Tuesday.
Police said they found a loaded handgun that had not been fired in Smith’s SUV, and Hayes’ attorneys have suggested that Smith was trying to retrieve the weapon when he was killed.
Hayes attorney John Fuller also has said Hayes was merely trying to get the license plate of the car that had bumped him when he ran into the rear of the Mercedes.
Thomson, the family attorney for the Smiths, has said the Hummer slammed into the Mercedes, shattering the rear windshield.
Hayes is due back in court Wednesday, when prosecutors with District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro’s office are expected to turn over documents to his attorneys.
A hearing on whether to reduce his $1.75 million bail is scheduled Friday before Criminal District Court Judge Camille Buras.
Christopher Bowman, a spokesman for Cannizzaro’s office, declined to discuss the case Tuesday, citing office policy of refusing to discuss open cases.