Former Saints player Will Smith's killer sentenced

25 and 15 year sentences to run concurrently

Chris Miller
April 20, 2017 - 3:17 pm

Cardell Hayes, convicted of manslaughter in the April 9, 2016 shooting death of former New Orleans Saints defensive end Will Smith, and attempted manslaughter for shooting Smith's wife, has been ordered to a 25 year sentence for manslaughter, and 15 years for attempted manslaughter. Orleans Criminal District Court Judge Camille Buras sentenced Hayes this afternoon.

Buras said the sentences will be served concurrently, and Hayes will receive credit for time served.

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.

Hayes could have received a maximum of 60 years -- 40 for manslaughter and 20 for attempted manslaughter. It's what prosecutors asked for when they began making their final statements.

Racquel Smith later expressed disappointment in the sentence and called it "lenient."

Hayes' defense argued unsuccessfully that he shot Smith in self-defense after getting into a confrontation following a vehicle collision in the Lower Garden District. 

Prosecutors characterized the shooting as a road rage incident. Security video showed Smith's car rear-ending Hayes' on Magazine Street, minutes before Hayes then crashed into Smith's vehicle a few blocks away.

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