Cardell Hayes sentenced to 25 years for killing Will Smith

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Cardell Hayes learned his sentence for killing former Saints defensive end Will Smith a little more than a year after shooting Smith following a traffic accident and altercation in New Orleans.

Hayes was convicted of manslaughter for killing Smith and Judge Camille Buras sentenced him to 25 years in prison on Thursday. Hayes was also sentenced to 15 years for attempted manslaughter for shooting Raquel Smith, Will Smith’s widow, but the two terms will run concurrently. Hayes had argued he acted in self-defense when he shot Smith.

“This case has presented a highly unique and emotional set of facts,” Buras said, via the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “The jury did reject the state’s theory that the defendant had acted with specific intent to kill Will Smith or Racquel Smith. The jury likewise rejected the defense’s theory that Cardell Hayes had acted in self-defense. Many things have been said regarding this case. 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. The Hayes family also has experienced loss. However, we are a society that functions based on the adherence to law. Whatever happened that night, this court finds it does not warrant what happened to Mr. and Mrs. Smith.”

A spokesman for district attorney Leon Canizzaro’s office said the D.A. and the Smith family are disappointed in the length of the sentence.