Retrial of Cardell Hayes, killer of Saints star Will Smith, delayed to next March
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The retrial of Cardell Hayes, the admitted killer of former Saints star Will Smith, has been delayed again to next March, an Orleans Parish judge ruled Monday (Sept. 19).
Criminal District Court Judge Camille Buras, who presided over Hayes’ first trial in December 2016, set a new trial date of March 6, 2023, following a conference with Hayes’ defense attorneys John Fuller and Sarah Chervinsky, and with Matthew Derbes, chief of trials for District Attorney Jason Williams’ office.
Hayes’ retrial was scheduled to begin Monday, but prosecutors requested another delay last month, citing concerns that not enough jurors were available this week.
“DA Williams has been in close contact with the Smith family and has made a commitment to Mrs. (Racquel) Smith to see this case all the way through and try this case personally,” Williams office said in a statement.
Hayes, 35, was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 25 years in state prison after admittedly shooting Smith to death during a traffic dispute in the Lower Garden District on April 9, 2016. But the verdict was delivered in a split vote of 10-2, and Hayes’ conviction later was overturned after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling deemed non-unanimous jury verdicts to be unconstitutional.
Hayes served about five years of his original sentence, but has remained free on bond while awaiting his second trial, which has now been delayed four times.
Because the original trial jury acquitted Hayes of second-degree murder in convicting him of manslaughter, Hayes can only be retried on charges of manslaughter in the killing of Smith, 34.
Hayes admitted at his original trial that he got out of his vehicle with a gun and claimed he shot Smith seven times in the back and once in the side in self-defense, as the former football star was reaching into his vehicle where his own weapon was holstered.
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