A man has been found guilty of manslaughter in the killing of former New Orleans Saints star Will Smith
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The man who shot former New Orleans Saints star Will Smith after a traffic accident nearly eight years ago has been found guilty of manslaughter.
The jury deliberated for more than four hours and reached its verdict Cardell Hayes retried The media reported that it was just after midnight on Saturday. He faces up to 40 years in prison.
The jury acquitted Hayes of attempted manslaughter in the shooting and wounding of Smith’s wife during the April 2016 confrontation.
Hayes, 36, was previously convicted in December 2016 of manslaughter in Smith’s death and attempted manslaughter in the gunshot wound of Raquel Smith. But the jury vote was 10 to 2, and the conviction was overturned after the US Supreme Court banned non-unanimous verdicts. It was Hayes Issued on bonds After serving more than four years of his 25-year prison sentence.
His retrial has been delayed for various reasons, including court closures during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The prosecution resumed its case against Hayes on Friday and the defense chose not to call witnesses afterward.
The city prosecutor insisted during his closing argument that Hayes fired unnecessarily.
“One guy fired one gun,” District Attorney Jason Williams said, holding in the air the evidence-based handgun that Hayes fired, hitting Smith eight times — seven in the back — and also hitting Smith’s wife in the legs.
Defense attorney John Fuller insisted that prosecutors had not proven that Hayes did not act in self-defense. Fuller pointed to a recording of a 911 call made shortly after the shooting in which Hayes can be heard in the background claiming that Smith stated he intended to get a gun from his car.
Fuller sought to refute prosecutors’ claims that Raquel Smith had calmed down her husband by the time Hayes opened fire.
“You don’t say ‘Calm down, it’s not worth it’ if you don’t have to say ‘Calm down, it’s not worth it,'” he said, referring to prosecution testimony about Raquel’s efforts to defuse the argument.
Evidence showed that Will Smith was drunk at the time of the confrontation. But there was no witness or forensic evidence to support Hayes’ claim that Smith used a weapon or fired a gun.
Smith, a 34-year-old father of three, was a defensive leader on a Saints team that lifted morale in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina devastated the city in 2005. He helped lead the team to a winning season in 2006 and a Super Bowl championship. Victory in 2010.
Hayes, who owned a tow truck business, played semi-professional football. He has one son.