Former Saints player Will Smith's killer gets total of 40 years

Cardell Hayes sentenced to 25 years for Will Smith killing

"I would be very surprised if either the state or the defense will present any information to Judge Buras that will significantly change the sentence that she is prepared to impose". Being away from my son for 60 years, what's the difference from being dead?

The killer of retired New Orleans Saints star Will Smith was denied a new trial Wednesday by a Louisiana judge, who then heard tearful, sometimes bitter "victim Impact" testimony from Smith's family and friends.

Hayes appeared to have caught something of a break at his December trial when a jury decided against second-degree murder, which would have meant mandatory life in prison. Formal sentencing is expected later this week.

She referenced a 2016 recording of a prison phone conversation, played at trial, in which Hayes called Racquel Smith "a phony" and Mumphrey also disparaged her.

"All I ask of you is to tell the truth", she said, looking straight at Hayes and accusing him of lying at his December trial, where he said Smith punched him first.

Smith was cast during the trial not only as a football hero - part of the Saints team that lifted the stricken city's spirits after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and the one that won a Super Bowl in 2010 - but also a beloved community leader who settled in New Orleans after retirement.

A sentencing hearing for Cardell Hayes will hear from defense witnesses testifying on Hayes' Thursday morning.

Michael Burnside, who appeared in court with wild hair, spoke in a rambling manner, twice let slip a profanity and called himself a "coward" for not coming forward earlier.

Hayes, who was convicted of manslaughter and attempted manslaughter, insisted at trial that he shot in self-defense.

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

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The defense will get a chance to make its case for leniency Thursday when a sentencing hearing resumes in the shooting death of former New Orleans Saints star Will Smith.

On the witness stand, Burnside said he heard two guns fired the night former Saints player Will Smith was shot and killed and his wife Raquel shot and injured in a road rage incident.

Assistant District Attorney Jason Napoli noted that Burnside - who said he doesn't own a clock or a calendar - couldn't be certain of the time and date of the shooting he heard.

Napoli noted that in fact, another shooting had happened in the same area just 45 minutes or so before Smith was killed.

Michael Burnside was called by lawyers for Cardell Hayes, convicted of manslaughter previous year in Smith's death. Smith had been drinking all day during a music festival in the French Quarter and had gone out with friends to drink more afterward, but they say his shooting death was not provoked. And later, after again insisting that he acted in self-defense as Smith fired a gun at him, despite trial evidence to the contrary, he referred to the Smith family, saying, "I apologize for their loss".

Racquel Smith, center, 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. Hayes has maintained that he believed Smith was armed when the two argued over a traffic dispute previous year.

Court records show the motion was filed Tuesday afternoon. It was unclear whether the motion might lead to a sentencing delay.

The New Orleans district attorney has said Hayes deserves to be imprisoned for 60 years.

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