Fuller brushed it off as coincidence and questioned how Hayes could have possibly known Smith had been at dinner with Ceravolo. New Orleans Police Department Superintendent Michael Harrison, too, said there's no indication that any of this played a factor in Saturday's shooting, though investigators are working to make sure that's the case.
Hayes is being held in New Orleans Central Lockup on a $1 million bond, according to police and jail records.
Saturday was not Hayes' first run-in with the law. He was arrested in 2010 for codeine possession, illegally carrying a gun and possession of drug paraphernalia.
He pleaded guilty in June 2012 and was sentenced to five years, and it was suspended. The next month, he withdrew his guilty plea and showed up in court in September 2012 with Fuller as his attorney, according to Orleans Parish Sheriff's Office records.
In June 2013, Hayes rejected a plea deal, the records show, and in January 2014, he pleaded guilty to weapon and drug paraphernalia charges, and he received two six-month suspended sentences, the court records indicate.
Hayes attended high school in New Orleans. He was a standout defensive tackle at Warren Easton Charter High School and, at 6-foot-3, 260 pounds, was considered one of the state's top recruits. It's unclear whether he went on to play college football or if he knew Smith through football.
At the time of the shooting, Hayes played for the Crescent City Kings of the Gridiron Developmental League, a pro league based out of Memphis, Tennessee. It appears he did not play much in 2015, as the stat sheet on the team website says he had only 10 tackles.
The team issued a statement and said it was aware of the incident and was cooperating with the police, but it would not be commenting.
"First, we would like to extend our deepest condolences to the Smith family and friends. Our organization is saddened by this tragedy. Will Smith was a pillar of the community, that exemplified the overwhelming kindness and generosity that New Orleans is known for," the statement said. "We are stunned and saddened by this senseless tragedy. The Crescent City Kings do not enable or condone violence in any shape, form, or fashion."
Smith and his friends in the Impala were about 10 blocks away from Sake Cafe when the violence erupted.
As the vehicles approached a five-point intersection in the city's Lower Garden District neighborhood, Hayes was driving behind them in an orange Hummer H2, police said.
Hayes rear-ended the Mercedes, causing Smith's SUV to hit the Impala. Smith and Hayes argued, and then Hayes "produced a handgun and shot Smith multiple times, the female victim was also shot to the leg," a police statement said.
Janis Baehr says she was in a nearby bed-and-breakfast when she heard the crash, dispute and at least five shots fired.
The Florida resident, who was in town to celebrate a friend's birthday at French Quarter Fest, told CNN she went outside after she heard a woman shout, "Please, God, somebody, please help me!"
There, she found Smith's wife, Racquel, on the sidewalk screaming, she said. Baehr got on the ground with her, and they prayed together before paramedics arrived.
Baehr recalled Racquel Smith crying out, "Where's my husband? Where's my husband?"
According to the police report, Will Smith was "in the middle of the street partially inside of his vehicle suffering from multiple gunshot wounds to the body. He died at the scene."
Hayes was still on the scene. Investigators recovered the weapon they believe he used, and it had no record, said Harrison, the police superintendent. Hayes also had a male passenger in the car with him. He was not identified, and Harrison said he had no information suggesting the passenger was involved in the shooting.
Hayes is scheduled to appear Monday afternoon in court, where he will confirm his counsel, Fuller said. Someone from Fuller's office will represent him, he told reporters. Fuller cannot represent Hayes for the entirety of his case because he begins a temporary stint as a judge
in Orleans Parish Criminal District Court in May.