Killer of NFL's Will Smith gets 25 years for manslaughter
Cardell Hayes, the man who murdered former New Orleans Saints star Will Smith during a traffic dispute, apologized to Smith's widow - Racquel Smith - in court on Thursday. That's far less than the maximum.
The judge sentenced 29-year-old Cardell Hayes to 25 years for manslaughter and 15 for attempted manslaughter.
The defense has noted the absence of any serious criminal record and has said Hayes, a tow truck business owner and the father of a 6-year-old son, feared for his life when he encountered a drunken, belligerent Smith in the traffic dispute.
Buras said the sentences will be served concurrently, and Hayes will receive credit for time served.
"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.
Hayes, who was convicted of manslaughter and attempted manslaughter, insisted at trial that he shot in self-defense.
As we previously reported, the New Orleans Saints star was shot and killed by Hayes after a road rage incident on April 9, 2016. Buras also is expected to hear arguments on a motion, filed Tuesday, seeking a new trial based on unspecified "new evidence".
Hayes, who killed Smith with repeated shots from his.45-caliber handgun, has insisted that he fired in self-defense, but evidence at trial showed Smith's loaded.9-mm semi-automatic handgun was found unused inside Smith's auto.
Emotion quickly overcame Hayes' mother, who said she would do anything to undo that night last April.
Napoli also noted the lack of evidence of any other guns being fired - no shell casings from a second gun, and no witnesses, other than Hayes, who indicated a second gun was involved. The defense has noted the absence of any serious criminal record and has said Hayes feared for his life when he encountered a drunken, belligerent Smith in a traffic dispute a year ago.
He said he took responsibility for actions by staying on the scene to wait for police and talking to them once they arrived. The confrontation began when Smith's SUV appeared to bump Hayes' Hummer.
A gun was found in Smith's SUV - loaded but unfired.
Hayes said he armed himself only after he and his own passenger were accosted by Smith and Richard Hernandez, a passenger in Smith's Mercedes.
Hayes' lawsuit said Smith's blood tested almost two times the legal limit for alcohol.
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.
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.
Napoli noted that in fact, another shooting had happened in the same area just 45 minutes or so before Smith was killed. "You and Will were (both) wrong because you operated in anger", he recalled telling Hayes. His testimony conflicts with trial testimony indicating only one gun was sacked. I pray for the other families of New Orleans that are dealing with the same tragedy that comes with the loss of life at the hands of senseless violence. They tearfully aimed bitter remarks at Smith's killer, Cardell Hayes. She presided over the trial and is familiar with all the issues raised in pre-hearing motions and a pre-sentence report she ordered.
His family and friends were in the courtroom as well Wednesday and some may be called to the stand Thursday to show support.
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