New Orleans Saints Player Will Smith’s Killer Sentenced to 25 Years

Cardell Hayes was found guilty of manslaughter in the 2016 shooting death of former NFL star

Last Updated: April 20, 2017 @ 6:04 PM

The killer of former New Orleans Saints player Will Smith was sentenced to 25 years in prison on Thursday.

Cardell Hayes was facing 60 years behind bars for the shooting death of the ex-NFL star, but was granted a lesser sentence for manslaughter, reported.

Judge Camille Buras gave Hayes 15 years for shooting Will’s wife, Racquel Smith in the legs, to be served at the same time, rather than the maximum available for attempted manslaughter. Hayes, 29, also will get a year of credit for the time he’s already served.

Smith, a defensive end for the Saints from 2004 to 2013, was killed in a traffic altercation in April 2016 in the Lower Garden District of New Orleans, which involved his Mercedes rear-ending Hayes’ Hummer. Following the second collision between the two, Hayes, an ex-semi-pro football lineman, pulled out a handgun and opened fire on Will and Racquel, killing the former and severely injuring the latter.

In a statement after Thursday’s sentencing, Racquel expressed her disappointment with its “leniency,” ESPN reported.

“My family and I are extremely disappointed with today’s sentencing and the leniency showed by Judge Buras for the defendant,” she said. “While we know nothing will ever bring Will back, we were hopeful that Judge Buras would have issued a stronger sentence to more justly reflect both the nature of the crimes and the tremendous loss and pain that my family has suffered as a result of Mr. Hayes’ violent actions on the night of April 9, 2016.”

“This ordeal has been a nightmare for me and my family. There are no winners here today,” Smith continued, before thanking the New Orleans District Attorney’s Office and the city’s police department and said she “will continue to shine my light for my Superman.”

According to the Associated Press, Hayes said he was acting in self-defense, and that Smith had pointed a gun at him.