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Emotions raw on witness stand at Will Smith death trial
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NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Early testimony in the trial of the man who fatally shot retired New Orleans Saints star Will Smith sometimes dealt more with the emotional effects of Smith's slaying than with facts.

The first witness called was Deuce McAllister, a fan favorite during nine seasons as a star running back for the Saints. McAllister choked up Tuesday as he testified about his friendship with Smith.

Later came Racquel Smith — struck in the legs by gunfire the night her husband was shot by 29-year-old Cardell Hayes.

Hayes faces life in prison if convicted of second-degree murder in Smith's death. His lawyers insist Hayes fired in self-defense after a car crash led to a heated argument.

Racquel Smith, sometimes addressing Hayes directly, insisted that her unarmed husband did nothing to provoke the killing. "I didn't do anything for you to shoot me," she told Hayes. She tearfully talked of having to explain her husband's death to their three children.

Racquel Smith said she thought she had defused the loud, profane argument that broke out after Cardell Hayes' Hummer rear-ended Smith's Mercedes SUV on a busy street in New Orleans last April.

The men got out of their cars to challenge each other, but she described locking eyes with her husband, reminding him of their three children and feeling his anger diminish.

"I thought it was done and I think he thought it was over, too," she testified as she was questioned by New Orleans Assistant District Attorney Laura Rodrigue.

Then, she heard two gunshots.

"I hear a pop, pop," she said. "I didn't think it was me."

A burning sensation spread throughout her body, and as she stumbled around to the other side of their car, she said she heard more gunshots — ones she learned later had killed her husband.

"I didn't do anything for you to shoot me," she told Hayes.

Her recollections presented a vastly different picture from the one being outlined by the defense. She insisted that she heard Hayes yelling profanely after the shooting, apparently at her husband's lifeless body, making a reference to a white friend of the Smiths who also got out to challenge Hayes.

"You want to show up for the effing white boy," she recalled Hayes shouting.

The defense had already disputed that claim in opening statements. They also insisted that Hayes felt threatened by Smith and his friends, who were traveling together in three cars that night after the Smiths attended the annual French Quarter festival, had dinner at a steakhouse and then met friends at a sushi restaurant.

On cross-examination just before Tuesday's proceedings ended, Racquel Smith acknowledged that her husband had had alcoholic beverages throughout the day of the shooting, beginning with one at the festival, more at a bar they visited later, wine with dinner and more drinks at the sushi restaurant.

Lawyers have said a toxicology report showed Smith was legally drunk the night of the shooting. But Racquel Smith insisted her husband did nothing to provoke the gunfire.

Hayes' lawyers, John Fuller and Jay Daniels, say Smith and the friends were the aggressors. Daniels told jurors in opening statements that Hayes only fired because Smith was reaching for his own gun.

"Will Smith went to his glove box to get his gun," Daniels insisted.

Assistant New Orleans District Attorney Jason Napoli rejected that idea in his opening statement. But even if that were true, it wouldn't justify the gunfire — including seven shots in the back.

"That isn't even close to self-defense," Napoli said. "That's murder."

The 12-member jury is being sequestered amid intense publicity during the trial, which lawyers say could last into next week.