Cardell Hayes sentenced to 25 years in prison; Smith family ‘very disappointed’

April 20, 2017 | Updated: 4:57 p.m., April 20, 2017

NEW ORLEANS -- Cardell Hayes, the man convicted of killing former Saint Will Smith and injuring his wife, Racquel, was sentenced today to 25 years in prison.

Hayes got a 15-year sentence for the attempted manslaughter charge and a 25-year sentence for manslaughter. The sentences will run concurrently.

"The Smith family is very disappointed in today's sentencing," Orleans Parish Assistant District Attorney Christopher Bowman said outside the courthouse.

Emotional mother of Cardell Hayes takes stand at sentencing hearing: ‘Take me instead’

District Judge Camille Buras handed down the sentence after a two-day sentencing hearing and gripping testimony from the families and friends of both Will and Racquel Smith and Cardell Hayes.

The defense tried to secure a new trial for Hayes, but the court denied the motion.

"Not at one time does he come forward to this court, to the jury and say: I'm sorry," prosecutors said in their closing statements. "There are consequences when people commit crimes... and that's what this is all about."

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The defense told the judge that  it was "an emotional trial for both sides of the aisle."

"This isn't a joking a matter, and to suggest that anyone treated it that way is an insult," attorney Jay Daniels said. "He's (Cardell Hayes) ready to accepting his sentence knowing that he told the truth ... He's a good man. He's a good father. He's a good son. He's a good brother."

Will Smith photo courtesy Getty Images

Judge Buras described the case as "profoundly tragic."

"A wife has lost her husband. Three children have lost their father. The Hayes family has suffered, too," she said.

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On the first day of the hearing, Racquel Smith, Saints Head Coach Sean Payton, along with other friends and family members, took the stand and talked about the impact Will Smith's death has had on their lives.

Thursday, Cardell Hayes, his mother, and the mother of his son testified.

"It's like I'm dead anyway," Hayes said.

Hayes faced a maximum of 60 years in prison after a jury found him guilty in December on one count of manslaughter for killing Will Smith and one count of attempted manslaughter for shooting Racquel Smith.

Hayes was charged with second-degree murder and attempted second-degree murder, but a jury handed down a lesser conviction.

The shooting happened in early April 2016 when Smith, his wife and a few of their friends were leaving a restaurant in the Garden District. Video shows Smith’s Mercedes bumping the back of Hayes’ Hummer on Magazine Street, prompting Hayes to follow Smith’s vehicle and smash into its rear.

An altercation ensued, and Hayes ultimately shot Smith seven times in the back and once in the side. Hayes shot Racquel twice in the leg.