Man found guilty of killing ex-Saints DE Will Smith following retrial into 2016 shooting… Cardell Hayes could face up to 40 years in prison after manslaughter verdict

  • Will Smith was killed following a traffic crash almost eight years ago
  • Cardell Hayes was found guilty of manslaughter early Saturday morning
  • DailyMail.com provides all the latest international sports news 

The man who shot and killed former New Orleans Saints star Will Smith was found guilty of manslaughter on Saturday – almost eight years later after the incident.

Cardell Hayes faces up to 40 years in prison following the guilty verdict in a retrial of a case that dates back to April 2016, when Smith was shot following a traffic crash. 

Hayes was acquitted of attempted manslaughter over the shooting of Smith’s wife, Racquel, who was injured in the same incident.

Defense lawyers had insisted that Hayes rightfully feared for his life when he shot Smith but the city’s top prosecutor argued Hayes fired needlessly.

‘One gun was fired by one man,’ District Attorney Jason Williams said, holding in the air the evidence-tagged handgun that Hayes fired, hitting Smith eight times – seven in the back – and also hitting Smith’s wife in the legs.

Ex-New Orleans Saints star Will Smith was killed following a traffic crash nearly eight years ago

Cardell Hayes could face up to 40 years in prison after being found guilty of manslaughter

Cardell Hayes could face up to 40 years in prison after being found guilty of manslaughter

Hayes was convicted in December 2016 of manslaughter in Smith’s death and attempted manslaughter for the gunshot wounding of Racquel Smith. 

But the jury vote was 10-2, and the conviction was tossed after the Supreme Court outlawed nonunanimous verdicts. Hayes was released on bond after having served more than four years of a 25-year sentence.

His retrial was delayed for various reasons, including court closures during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Prosecutors rested their case against Hayes on Friday, and the defense chose not to call witnesses after that, setting the stage for closing arguments and jury deliberations.

Smith was a leader on the Saints team that lifted spirits in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina

Smith was a leader on the Saints team that lifted spirits in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina

Assistant District Attorney Matt Derbes, during closing arguments, readily conceded that Smith was drunk at the time Hayes ran into the rear of his car before the shooting, and that a loud argument ensued.

Hayes, 36, insisted at his 2016 trial that he shot Smith in self-defense during the April 2016 confrontation. Hayes said he fired at Smith only because he believed a drunken and belligerent Smith had retrieved a gun from his SUV. 

Smith, a 34-year-old father of three, was a defensive leader on the Saints team that lifted spirits in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina devastated the city in 2005. He helped carry the team to a winning season in 2006 and a Super Bowl victory in 2010.

Hayes, who owned a tow truck business, once played semi-pro football. He has one son.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk