Cardell Hayes sentenced to 25 years in prison - FOX 8, WVUE,, weather, app, news, saints

Cardell Hayes sentenced to 25 years in prison

Cardell Hayes (Source: OPSO) Cardell Hayes (Source: OPSO)

A New Orleans judge this afternoon has sentenced 29-year-old Cardell Hayes to 25 years in prison for the fatal shooting of former Saint Will Smith.

Judge Camile Buras’ sentence came after final arguments from both sides and emotional testimony from Hayes’ family.

During final summations this afternoon, Hayes’ attorney Jay Daniels argued for leniency saying, “Any prolonged sentence, in this case, would be excessive. 60 years is absurd. He wasn't a menace to society.”

But prosecutor Laura Rodrigue said, “Cardell Hayes took the stand and lied. He comes to court today and cried. There’s nothing left to do but beg.”

The judge handed down a 25-year sentence on a day that started with Hayes on the witness stand.

Judge Buras gave Hayes 25 years for the manslaughter of Will Smith and 15 years for the attempted manslaughter of Raquel Smith. Both will be served concurrently, meaning he will do 25 years in jail. He could have served 60 years. His sentence will be served without the possibility of probation or parole.

Will Smith's widow, Raquel Smith, released a statement following the sentencing stating that she felt that Judge Buras was lenient in issuing Hayes' sentence. 

My family and I are extremely disappointed with today’s sentencing and the leniency showed by Judge Buras for the defendant. 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. Today’s sentencing does not bring back Will and leaves another child to grow up without a father. I pray for the other families of New Orleans that are dealing with the same tragedy that comes with the loss of life at the hands of senseless violence. Will loved this city and we must do better together to enact serious change so that Will’s unnecessary murder is not in vain.

My heart is full of gratitude for the entire staff of the New Orleans District’s Attorney’s Office  and the members of the Police Department who worked tirelessly on this case.  I am particularly grateful to District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro and his Assistant District Attorney’s Jason Napoli and Laura Rodrigue for their hard work in presenting this case with such precision and passion. Their ability to convey the facts of the case while also caring so deeply about justice for Will and my family is something I will never forget.  And to all of those who continued to pray alongside us through this very difficult time, we heard you and we are so appreciative for the continued outpouring of love and support.

I will continue to shine my light for my Superman. Each day we continue to heal and work through our pain and feelings of enormous loss. Will’s dedication to his family, his love for his community and his desire to live life to the fullest will continue to inspire me, Willie, Lisa, Wynter and everyone else who loved him. We are hopeful that we can finally focus on what brings us joy—remembering Will for the man he was and the life he lived.  We will carry our memories of Will with us every day for the rest of our lives.

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