Alternate juror in Will Smith case says jurors were conflicted, under pressure

Alternate juror in Will Smith case says jurors were ambivalent, under pressure

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - An alternate juror in the Will Smith shooting trial who didn't sit through deliberations said he believes the vote to convict could have gone either way.

That juror spoke exclusively Tuesday to FOX 8 News about the case against Cardell Hayes

"The prosecution, their case, was more on emotion and more on passion. The defense's case, on the other hand, was more on the law," said the alternate juror, who believes that Hayes, now convicted of manslaughter, acted in self-defense.

"Cassciopo (a witness) who says that he sees hand-checking, but when the DA started to push him a little further, pushes, he says, 'Was there fighting going back and forth?' He says, 'No, Cardell is defending himself," said the juror.

The juror said others jurors believed that Smith started the ordeal by hitting Hayes' Hummer, and he said it was more than a tap.

"From the angle from the rear, slightly to the rear on the right, when Will's car hits him, Cardell's car moves up 3 feet," said the juror.

From there, things moved quickly, and in less than two minutes a deadly confrontation began, after Hayes' Hummer hit the back of Smith's Mercedes SUV. In fact, the jury found Hayes not guilty on one count of criminal damage.

"We truly believe Cardell pressed his brakes because we saw video, we saw lights come on, and we don't believe it was intentional," said the juror.

The juror believes that Smith struck first.

"I believe he struck him, yes, and if you remember when Racquel got on the stand, Racquel didn't get out the car right away. She sat in the car for a minute. If you listen to what Cardell says, a cup hits him in the face, and he says he's hit in the face, and after he's hit in the face, he says, 'Chill out, you guys are drunk, you guys are high.' And after he says that, Racquel gets in between them, so Raquel probably doesn't see the hit," said the juror.

At some point, Hayes gets his gun, and the juror believes that Smith was going to get his based on Racquel Smith's testimony.

"She named her three kids," the juror said. "When you think about it, when would your wife or spouse ever have to name your three kids, saying think about it, it's not worth it, unless she knew he was going to get his gun?"

And in spite of one gunshot to Smith's side and seven to the back, the juror believes Cardell Hayes acted in self-defense and should have been acquitted. That's because the juror believed Smith was reaching for the glove compartment where Smith thought he had a  gun.

"I can tell you, the jurors were second-guessing themselves when they came down from the jury room before the verdict was even read. And if you paid attention to when the judge asked everyone to say whether this was their vote or if it wasn't, there was actually one young lady who voted yes, who when the judge asked them, they shook her head, and said no," said the juror.

The alternate juror said in speaking with other jurors after the verdict, he found they may have voted for acquittal if they didn't feel pressure to render a verdict at 10:30 p.m.on a Sunday after being away from their families for a week.

"As the other ones were holding out, there may have been pressure to say, you know what? I'm holding these folks up. They can't go home until we make a decision," said the juror.

But the jury voted to convict, and the DA now seeks a 60-year sentence for Cardell Hayes.

We spoke with another alternate juror who said, "I agree with the possibility that it might have been a hung jury."

There is no word yet as to whether Hayes' attorney will appeal.

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