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Killer of NFL's Will Smith gets 25 years for manslaughter

21 April 2017

New Orleans Saints NFL football team head coach Sean Payton enters the Orleans Parish criminal courthouse for a sentencing hearing for Cardell Hayes, who was convicted of manslaughter in the shooting death of former New Orlea.

Racquel Smith, center, widow of former New Orleans Saints star Will Smith, leaves the Orleans Parish criminal courthouse with supporters, during a recess for a sentencing hearing for Cardell Hayes, who killed her husband and shot her, and was convicted of manslaughter in New Orleans, Wednesday, April 19, 2017.

Fuller reminded Hayes he could be in prison for the next 60 years, based on Buras' decision, and asked how being away from his son that long would affect him. But Fuller said that would have meant his 29-year-old client would die in prison.

"With 25 years, Fuller said ". he has the opportunity to be reunited with his family".

The widow of former New Orleans Saints star Will Smith says their daughter fears the day his killer gets out of jail.

Hayes' sentencing may be pushed to later in the week even if the judge rules out a new trial.

"There are no winners here today", her statement says.

"Just lock me up to give me my son back!"

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

Cardell Hayes, the man convicted of shooting and killing former Saints player Will Smith has been sentenced to 25 years in prison, Judge Camille Buras ruled Thursday. State law requires him to serve 85 percent of the sentence before becoming eligible for good-behavior release, meaning he could be freed in roughly 20 years.

Hayes has consistently maintained he shot Smith in self-defense. The confrontation began when Smith's SUV appeared to bump Hayes' Hummer.

Looking at the Smith family, Hayes, who played semi-professional football, said he looked up to Smith.

Hayes said he repeatedly shot Smith in fear for his life, but no other witness or evidence supported his belief that Smith fired a weapon.

A gun was found in Smith's SUV — loaded but unfired.

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. No additional shell casings have been found, he said, and no witnesses other than Hayes have pointed to a second gun. 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. Daniel is urging the judge to give less than the minimum if she feels it's excessive. Hayes could get up to 60 years if sentenced to consecutive terms for manslaughter in Smith's death and attempted manslaughter for wounding Smith's wife.

A prosecutor is poking holes in the testimony of a new witness in the killing of retired New Orleans Saints star Will Smith.

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Assistant New Orleans District Attorney Laura Rodrigue dismissed the tears as a "desperate attempt" to gain sympathy, and hammered at Hayes' claim of self-defense.

That would likely require Fuller to waive a 48-hour wait period that went into effect Wednesday when Fuller moved for a new trial, a motion quickly rejected by the judge.

Testimony ahead of the sentence has been emotional. Smith's widow Racquel accused Hayes of lying. Wailing and shaking, she pleaded for mercy from the judge and begged for the Smiths to forgive her son.

Cardell Hayes, 29, was convicted of killing Smith during an April 2016 road rage incident in which Smith's wife was also injured.

That was the same request from Hayes' mother, whose uncontrollable sobbing led to a brief recess while she composed herself.

In sometimes rambling and emotional testimony, a New Orleans man is insisting he heard gunfire from two different weapons when Will Smith was shot to death past year.

Racquel Smith said she is "extremely disappointed" at what she called the leniency of the sentence, given the violence of the crime and her family's pain and loss.

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Killer of NFL's Will Smith gets 25 years for manslaughter