Cardell Hayes sentenced to 25 years for killing of Saints' Will Smith

Rufina Vignone
Aprile 21, 2017

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. That's far less than the maximum.

The 29-year-old Hayes faces upto 60 years in prison at his sentencing Friday.

Hayes was also sentenced to 15 years for attempted manslaughter for shooting Raquel Smith, Will Smith's widow, but the two terms will run concurrently.

Cardell Hayes was facing 60 years behind bars for the shooting death of the ex-NFL star, but was granted a lesser sentence for manslaughter, NFL.com reported.

As she puts it, "I will continue to shine my light for my Superman".

An altercation ensued, and Hayes ultimately shot Smith seven times in the back and once in the side.

"He's (Cardell Hayes) ready to accepting his sentence knowing that he told the truth ..."

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

They were never addressed during Hayes' trial, but they came up during his sentencing hearing, with relatives explaining how his father's death was traumatic for him. The "sentencing does not bring back Will and leaves another child, (Hayes' son), to grow up without a father".

Rodrigue also hammered away at Hayes's insistence — contradicted by testimony and evidence — that he shot Smith only after Smith grabbed a gun and fired. "I wish that night never happened".

Wailing and shaking, the mother of the man who killed former New Orleans Saints star Will Smith pleaded for mercy from the judge who is preparing to sentence him.

William "Billy" Ceravolo has ruled out filing a civil lawsuit over now-discredited allegations that he tampered with the crime scene after Will Smith's fatal shooting, claims that resulted in his suspension from a reserve officer's post.

On Thursday Hayes apologized for the Smith family's "loss".

Smith was cast during the trial as a beloved community leader and a football hero, part of the Saints team that lifted the city's spirits after Hurricane Katrina and later won a Super Bowl.

The defence noted that Hayes owned a business towing cars and lacked any prior record of serious crimes. Surveillance video showed his Mercedes possibly bumping Hayes' Hummer, then driving off. Both hulky former athletes then got out and argued in the street. The former National Football League star's loaded gun was found in his auto, unused. Judge Buras dismissed the motion. He insisted on the stand that he heard a "pop" before he started shooting and that he did not shoot at Racquel Smith, who was hit in the legs. The former Saints star was said to have had a high blood-alcohol level, but prosecutors do not believe he provoked the shooting.

Although prosecutors said Hayes deliberately rammed Smith's vehicle, Hayes insisted he was trying to get Smith's license number when the second crash occurred.

Wednesday's testimony veered into the freaky as the defense called a man who claimed to hear the sounds of two different guns, the night Smith was shot in the Lower Garden District.

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