Published: Fri, April 21, 2017
U.S. | By Eddie Scott

Cardell Hayes sentenced in death of former Saints standout Will Smith

Cardell Hayes sentenced in death of former Saints standout Will Smith

The sentence was handed down on the second day of hearings, after emotional testimony from Will Smith's widow Racquel, friends and former coaches and teammates of Smith's, and even Hayes himself.

"If he was sentenced to 60 years he probably could have died in jail".

"With 25 years, Fuller said ". he has the opportunity to be reunited with his family". Hayes, who killed former New Orleans Saints star Will Smith in an argument following a traffic crash, avoided a mandatory life sentence when a jury convicted him of manslaughter instead of second-degree murder.

Fuller objected to the denial of a new trial and invoked Hayes' right for a 48-hour delay of the imposition of his sentence.

"There are no winners here today", her statement says. "Lock me up and give me my son back".

Smith praised prosecutors and police, and said she and their three children, Willie, Lisa and Wynter, will carry on his legacy of love for his community.

"You don't put an obviously disturbed man on the stand".

Racquel Smith, widow of former New Orleans Saints star Will Smith, enters the Orleans Parish criminal courthouse with supporters, for a sentencing hearing for Cardell Hayes, who was convicted of manslaughter in the shooting death of former New Orleans Saints star Will Smith, in New Orleans, Wednesday, April 19, 2017.

The man convicted of manslaughter in the death of Utica native and former NFL-er Will Smith will likely face sentencing on Friday.

Hayes' defense has argued Smith threw a punch before he was shot.

Jurors heard at trial that Hayes's Hummer had rear-ended Smith's Mercedes SUV that night, shortly after the SUV appeared to have tapped the rear of Hayes's vehicle. Hayes faces up to 60 years in prison for manslaughter and attempted manslaughter after shooting Smith and wounding Smith's wife, Raquel, during a dispute over traffic.

Hayes claimed self-defense, but no other witness or evidence supported his belief that Smith was firing at him. The former National Football League star's loaded gun was found in his vehicle, unused.

Smith was killed a year ago last week in what was deemed a road rage incident in Louisiana. Formal sentencing is expected later this week.

A prosecutor is poking holes in the testimony of a new witness in the killing of retired New Orleans Saints star Will Smith.

Fox 8 legal analyst Joe Raspanti criticized defense attorney John Fuller for calling Burnside to the stand.

"I would give my life if it would bring your husband back", she told Racquel Smith as she shook with emotion. Hayes insisted he fired in self-defense, but apologized to the Smith family. Wailing and shaking, she pleaded for mercy from the judge and begged for the Smiths to forgive her son.

Hayes, 29, will get a year of credit for the time he's already served since shooting one of the city's sports heroes in April 2016.

The New Orleans district attorney has said Hayes deserves to be imprisoned for 60 years. That would include the maximum 40 years for Hayes' manslaughter conviction, followed by another 20 for attempted manslaughter in the wounding of Smith's wife.

"The motion for a new trial is based on the supposition that injustice has been shown to the defendant", Criminal District Judge Camille Buras said Wednesday.

In sometimes rambling and emotional testimony, a New Orleans man is insisting he heard gunfire from two different weapons when Will Smith was shot to death a year ago. Hayes was the first witness called. He insisted he was afraid for his life as Smith fired a gun at him, despite trial evidence to the contrary. "I wish that night never happened".

Foret agrees. "Most judges have their minds made up when they take the bench the morning of sentencing", he said.

The defense gets a chance to make its case for leniency Thursday in the shooting death of former New Orleans Saints star Will Smith. A provision in the state criminal code says a sentence can not be imposed until at least 24 hours after a new trial motion is overruled. They tearfully aimed bitter remarks at Smith's killer, Cardell Hayes.

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