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Former Saint dies in apparent road rage incident

NEW ORLEANS — Former Saints player Will Smith was shot and killed in a case of road rage by a man who had rear-ended his car, police said Sunday.

Smith, a defensive end for 10 seasons with the Saints, was beloved by fans for his role in bringing a Super Bowl championship to New Orleans in 2009, though the defensive captain also found himself at the center of the league's bounty probe in 2012.

There was no indication Smith, 34, knew 28-year-old Cordell Hayes before the deadly confrontation. Hayes waited for police to arrive after the shooting and was arrested on a charge of second-degree murder. Police Superintendent Michael Harrison would not say whether Hayes claimed self-defense, citing the ongoing investigation.

Hayes will plead not guilty, defense attorney John Fuller said. "The story that's real is different from the story that's being put out there," Fuller said.

A magistrate set bail at $1 million Sunday evening for Hayes.

According to New Orleans police, Hayes' Hummer H2 rear-ended Smith's Mercedes G63 at about 11:30 p.m. Saturday in the upscale Lower Garden District, pushing it into a Chevrolet Impala occupied by two of Smith's acquaintances, who were unhurt. Smith and Hayes argued, and Hayes shot both Smith and Smith's wife, Racquel, police said. She was wounded in the leg and taken to a hospital.

Harrison said her injuries were not life-threatening.

Smith was shot multiple times in the back and torso and pronounced dead at the scene, police said.

The Smith family said in a statement that they were thankful for an outpouring of support but requested privacy as they grieve for a "devoted husband, father and friend." Will and Racquel Smith have three children.

In a statement Sunday, Saints owner Tom Benson and wife Gayle said the killing would "leave a lasting scar on our community forever."

Harrison said Smith dined just hours before the crash with a police officer who had once been sued by Hayes, whose father was shot and killed by police in 2005. That former officer, William Ceravolo, was not present at the time of the crash, police spokesman Tyler Gamble said. Police settled the lawsuit in 2011, but terms were confidential.

Ceravolo, then a lieutenant, was present when police shot and killed Hayes' father, Anthony, according to news reports at the time. Fuller said Saturday's shooting was unrelated to that incident.

Smith, a native of Queens, N.Y., played for Ohio State's 2002 national championship team and graduated in 2005 with a degree in criminology.

Manziel's new home: Johnny Manziel, cut last month by the Browns, is staying with Broncos linebacker Von Miller, the troubled quarterback told TMZ on Saturday. "I'm living out here with my guy, Von Miller. Everybody knows Von Miller. Super Bowl MVP, Von Miller, my brother. I'm living with him right now," Manziel told the tabloid show. "We're getting our lives together, bro." ESPN reported last week that Broncos coach Gary Kubiak had spoken to Manziel, the former Heisman Trophy winner whose off-field troubles led Cleveland to release him just two seasons after drafting him in the first round. "I don't think there's anything wrong with partying, bro," Manziel said in West Hollywood, where he said he had been partying the previous five or six nights. "There's a difference between partying and being out of control."

Trade: The Jets said they agreed to terms with the Broncos to acquire Ryan Clady as a replacement for retired D'Brickashaw Ferguson. New York sent a fifth-round pick in this year's draft to Denver for Clady and a seventh-rounder. Clady also agreed to a restructured deal, a one-year contract worth $6 million in base salary including $3 million guaranteed.

Former Saint dies in apparent road rage incident 04/10/16 [Last modified: Sunday, April 10, 2016 10:22pm]
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