Cardell Hayes’ retrial for killing of Saints’ Will Smith delayed for sixth time

Cardell Hayes, now 35, was convicted of manslaughter by a split jury in December 2016 for the...
Cardell Hayes, now 35, was convicted of manslaughter by a split jury in December 2016 for the fatal shooting of former Saints star Will Smith.
Published: Feb. 15, 2023 at 11:32 AM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The once-convicted killer of former New Orleans Saints star Will Smith will have enjoyed two years of freedom before going to trial for a second time.

Cardell Hayes’ retrial was delayed for the sixth time on Wednesday (Feb. 15), court records show. A new trial date won’t be set until a pretrial conference on March 6, which had been the most recent date set to start Hayes’ second trial.

Hayes, now 35, was convicted in December 2016 of manslaughter and attempted manslaughter, in connection with an April 2016 road rage incident in the Lower Garden District in which Smith was fatally shot eight times in his back and side, and his wife Racquel Smith was shot in the legs.

Hayes was sentenced four months later by Criminal District Court Judge Camille Buras to serve 25 years in state prison. But because he was convicted by a split 10-2 jury verdict, Smith’s conviction and sentence were vacated in January 2021 by a US Supreme Court decision that deemed the outcome unconstitutional.

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Awaiting a second trial, Hayes has been free since posting a $225,000 bond on March 31, 2021.

Hayes’ retrial first was scheduled for July 12, 2021. It has since been postponed and rescheduled six times.

Smith, a Pro Bowl defensive end who played for the Saints from 2004-13, was 34 when he was killed. Hayes claimed at his first trial that he shot Smith in self-defense.

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