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ibusinesslines.com June 27, 2017


Defense to plead for leniency in death of ex-New Orleans Saint

20 April 2017, 06:59 | Myron Mathis

The Latest: Witness for Will Smith's killer challenged

Ex-Saints star's killer faces sentencing, but delay possible

A New Orleans judge on Wednesday denied a request for a new trial for the man convicted in December of the fatal shooting of former Saints player Will Smith.

Although prosecutors said Hayes deliberately rammed Smith's vehicle, Hayes insisted he was trying to get Smith's license number when the second crash occurred. And with tears and anger, she lashed out at the man who shot her and killed her husband during a traffic dispute previous year.

At the time, District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro said Hayes deserved 60 years: the maximum 40 for manslaughter for killing Smith, and an additional 20 for attempting to kill Smith's wife.

The court heard hours of impact statements from Smith's friends and family yesterday, including Smith's widow Racquel. "Like rare. Not as a player, but as a man, a player and a teammate".

Smith's role would have been to work with the team's defensive line, a position he played during his stellar nine-year career with the team.

"There's no winners", Payton declared, recalling how he watched Hayes being found guilty.

Judge Camille Buras will hear defense arguments when the hearing resumes Thursday, and she is expected to announce the sentence no later than Friday.

On Wednesday, Hayes attorneys had a man testify that he heard two different gunshots on the night Smith was killed, but testimony was reportedly freakish and now Hayes is set to be sentenced on Friday. He said he's familiar with guns. He testified that he heard "baps" from a smaller weapon, then "booms" from a larger one.


In sometimes rambling and emotional testimony, a New Orleans man is insisting he heard gunfire from two different weapons when Will Smith was shot to death a year ago. "There were four baps before there were eight booms", he said.

Wearing a wild mane of hair and a bushy beard, Burnside spoke clearly and confidently but appeared near tears at times and twice let slip a profanity.

Burnside called himself a "coward" for not coming forward immediately as a witness, but said he didn't realize the sounds he heard were related to Smith's death until he read about the shooting in the newspaper later on. He insisted on the stand that he heard a "pop" before he started shooting and that he did not shoot at Racquel Smith, who was hit in the legs. No additional shell casings have been found, he said, and no witnesses other than Hayes have pointed to a second gun. But they said he did nothing to provoke the shooting.

"That man is certifiably insane".

"Just because people are different from you doesn't make them liars", countered defense attorney John Fuller.

Prosecutor Jason Napoli enters the Orleans Parish criminal courthouse for a sentencing hearing for Cardell Hayes, who was convicted of manslaughter in the shooting death of former New Orleans Saints star Will Smith, in New Or.

The 29-year-old owner of a tow-truck business could be sentenced to 60 years for fatally shooting Smith and wounding Smith's wife in a confrontation after a traffic crash last year.

Following trial in December, a Jury declined to slap Hayes with a verdict of second-degree murder, which would have meant a mandatory life in prison.



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