Former police captain accused of tampering with evidence at murder scene may file defamation suit

By Chandra Lye | Dec 28, 2016

NEW ORLEANS — A retired New Orleans police captain has been contemplating a defamation lawsuit against an attorney who accused him of tampering with evidence at a murder scene. 

Attorney John Fuller is accused of making the alleged defamatory statements. Fuller has provided representation for Cardell Hayes, who was convicted of second-degree murder in the Will Smith murder trial. During the preliminary hearing in April, Fuller claimed to have evidence that William Ceravolo had tampered with evidence at the crime scene. 

“The private investigator David Olasky testified in the prelim that he had a witness that saw my client go into the car and do something,” Tanya Picou Faia, Ceravolo’s attorney, told the Louisiana Record.

Media reports indicate the witness claimed to have seen Ceravolo remove a gun from Smith’s vehicle after minutes after the shooting. Ceravolo was said to have dined with Smith at Sake Café the night of Smith’s death. 

Faia called the accusations “disgusting and horrific” and  said the allegations didn’t just come from the hearing.

“Mr. Fuller made the allegations many times in the press that my client planted a gun, moved the gun, or wiped the gun, or concealed the gun. It just depended on what news organization he was talking to and what day,” she said.

Faia said it was Fuller’s media appearances that tipped her off to preserve video evidence that showed Ceravolo was at the Windsor Court Hotel at the same time he was allegedly at the crime scene.

“The only reason I knew to do that was because Mr. Fuller had been saying in the press that a police officer had gone in the car and moved a gun. That had been going on for weeks before the trial,” she said.

Hayes’ attorneys initially refused to identify their witness to anyone, including the FBI. However, Criminal District Judge Camille Buras ordered the witness to be named. Following the judge’s order, Fuller and Olasky identified her as Warnisha “Weedy” Hudson, but she was not called to testify.

Olaksy also told the court that he had not recorded audio or video of the discussion he had with Hudson, something Faia said was unprofessional. She said she uses PI on a regular basis and “Never have they ever interviewed a witness for me without at least writing a report.”

The accusations caused the New Orleans Police Department to reassign Ceravolo, a move said to be intended to preserve the integrity of the investigation into the Smith shooting. 

Faia said her client had been examining his options with regards to a libel lawsuit against Fuller but indicated she would not be representing Ceravolo in the matter, as it was not her area of expertise.

Hayes was found guilty on Dec. 11 of manslaughter in the shooting of Smith, a retired Saints player. It took the jury six hours to reach its decision. 

Fuller did not respond to requests for comment.

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