U.S. Supreme Court throws out conviction of man charged in former Saints star Will Smith’s death


NEW ORLEANS – The United States Supreme Court has thrown out the conviction of the man found guilty of killing Saints star Will Smith.

Cardell Hayes was charged with second degree murder, but convicted by a jury on a lesser charge of manslaughter. That decision though, was not unanimous.

It will be up to newly sworn in District Attorney Jason Williams to decide if Cardell Hayes will receive a new trial.

Cardell Hayes

In April 2017, Hayes was initially sentenced to 25 years in prison after police say he shot and killed Will Smith and injured Smith’s wife. The jury verdict was not unanimous, and since then, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that non-unanimous verdicts in felony trials violates the Sixth Amendment of the Constitution.

Mark Plaisance, one of Hayes’s attorneys released a statement to WGNO saying, “Cardell Hayes is pleased that the United States Supreme Court recognized his right to a new trial in light of the court’s prior decision in Ramos v. Louisiana, which recognized that non-unanimous verdicts are unconstitutional.”

Plaisance went on to say, “Mr. Hayes looks forward to a new trial on the lesser charge of manslaughter rather than the original charged crime of second-degree murder, which the jury rejected. Mr. Hayes maintains his innocence.”

Right now, Hayes remains at the Hunt Correctional Center in St. Gabriel.

He could possibly receive bond, but there are a lot of steps to go through, including the case going back to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.

WGNO reached out to District Attorney Jason Williams’ office and a spokesperson said they will comment in the coming days if they will pursue a new trial against Hayes.


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