The man who killed New Orleans Saints’ defensive end Will Smith, and wounded his wife Racquel Smith, was found guilty Sunday of manslaughter and attempted masnslaughter for the April 9 shooting. Prosecutors say they will seek the maximum penalty of 60 years against Cardell Hayes when he is sentenced on February 17 of next year. Hayes opened fire on the couple’s car after an ongoing road rage dispute.
The prosecution and defense presented different accounts of what happened that fateful spring night. Both Hayes and Racquel Smith contend the other party was the aggressor in the dispute. Hayes contends the Smiths hit his car first, while authorities say Hayes rear-ended Smith’s car, which caused him to get out of his car and confront Hayes.
Hayes claimed during the trial that he shot Will Smith in self-defense, but also that his gun misfired, firing more times than he intended, and wounding Smith’s wife. While Hayes was initially charged with second-degree murder, the jury brought back the lesser charges after deliberating for five hours. Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro called Smith’s death, “the murder of a hero," and said, “We will do our best to get the judge to impose the maximum sentence of 60 years."
[Photo: NBC News]