25 years for ex-Saint's killer in 'profoundly sad' case

The man who killed retired New Orleans Saints star Will Smith and wounded his wife after colliding in traffic last year was sentenced Thursday to 25 years in prison for manslaughter, far less than the maximum prosecutors had called for. Are you satisfied or disappointed? She could have tacked on an additional 20 years because Hayes was also found guilty of attempted manslaughter after Smith's widow, Racquel, was struck with one bullet in both legs. So, he'll be 54 when he gets out of prison.

She began by telling the court she wanted Hayes to be "something other than just hanging on the street, and he was". Tommy spoke to Chris Bowman, New Orleans Assitant District Attorney, about his thoughts. Wailing and shaking, she pleaded for mercy from the judge and begged for the Smiths to forgive her son.

The court does feel compelled to say how profoundly sad and tragic this case is, that three (Smith) children have lost their father, a wife her husband, and a family their cherished loved one.

"That's what I fear most for my son, not to be there for him", Hayes said, then dissolved into tears and stammered out: "I'm not really there for my son".

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

District Judge Camille Buras handed down the sentence after a two-day sentencing hearing and gripping testimony from the families and friends of both Will and Racquel Smith and Cardell Hayes. A day earlier, Racquel Smith said all she ever wanted was for Hayes to tell her he was sorry for what happened.

Cardell Hayes, 29, appeared to have caught something of a break at his December trial when a jury rejected the prosecution's push for a second-degree murder verdict, which would have meant mandatory life in prison.

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 auto apparently bumped his Humvee in traffic.

Hayes is again insisting that he acted in self-defense as Smith fired a gun at him, despite evidence to the contrary at trial.

"I'm definitely sorry for their loss".

The defense gets a chance to make its case for leniency Thursday in the shooting death of former New Orleans Saints star Will Smith.

The hearings on Wednesday and Thursday included testimony from Racquel Smith, Sean Payton and Smith's other relatives. They tearfully aimed bitter remarks at Smith's killer, Cardell Hayes.

Hayes insisted at trial that it was self-defense.

Smith's family and National Football League colleagues, meanwhile, showed their support in the courtroom.

Ciolino said Buras likely will have a sentence in mind when she enters the courtroom.

  • Leroy Wright