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. Hayes's lawyers are seeking a new trial. Saints coach Sean Payton took a front row seat. 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. That witness, who claimed to live near the scene of Smith's killing in New Orleans and to have heard two guns go off, was described as "certifiably insane" by the assistant district attorney who cross-examined him.
Prosecutors said Smith went to his auto to retrieve his weapon only after getting shot and died in his vehicle before he could get his hands on it.
Hayes was found guilty of manslaughter and attempted manslaughter back in December.
It capped two days of shattering, sad and sometimes bitter pre-sentence testimony: from Smith's widow, sister and Saints coach Sean Payton among others on Wednesday; from shooter Cardell Hayes, his mother, friends and loved ones on Thursday.
On top of the 25-year sentence, Hayes will also be serving a 15-year sentence for shooting Racquel Smith concurrently with his 25-year sentence.More news: Bulls' Rajon Rondo Has Thumb Fracture, Is Out Indefinitely
The defense has noted that Hayes owned a business towing cars and lacked any prior record of serious crimes.
Burnside was called by the defense Wednesday to support a motion for a new trial for Cardell Hayes, who faces up to 60 years in prison for manslaughter and attempted manslaughter in the shootings of Smith and his wife following a traffic dispute.
Looking at the Smith family, Hayes, who played semi-professional football, said he looked up to Smith.
"I would give my life if it would bring your husband back", she told Racquel Smith as she shook with emotion.
It was a road-rage confrontation that cost former New Orleans Saints star Will Smith his life.More news: Russian Federation vetoes Security Council resolution on alleged chemical attack in Syria
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 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 past year. And with tears and anger, she lashed out at the man who shot her and killed her husband during a traffic dispute previous year.
The ruling clears the way for the sentencing of Cardell Hayes later this week.
The man who killed retired New Orleans Saints star Will Smith has been breaking down in tears over being separated from his little boy.
Cardell Hayes was the first witness called Thursday as the defense began to make its case for leniency.
Hayes faces up to 60 years in prison for manslaughter and attempted manslaughter after killing Will Smith and wounding Racquel in a confrontation that began when the Smith's vehicle apparently bumped his Humvee in traffic.More news: Cavs rally from 26 down to defeat Pacers
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 vehicle.
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