Killer of NFL's Will Smith apologizes to his widow in court
Hayes was convicted of fatally shooting Smith and wounding Smith's wife in a confrontation after a traffic crash past year.
Saints coach Sean Payton took a front row seat among Smith's family and friends during the Wednesday morning hearing.
The surprise new witness produced by the defense on Wednesday was Michael Burnside of New Orleans, who took the stand insisting that he heard two different weapons fired during the traffic dispute between Hayes and Smith.
Cardell Hayes' defense team asked for a new trial on Wednesday, a request that was denied by the judge.
(AP Photo/Bill Kostroun, File).
Defense lawyers for the man who killed former New Orleans Saints star Will Smith have filed a motion for a new trial based on "new evidence".
Judge Camille Buras is weighing his sentence for killing former New Orleans Saints star Will Smith.
Prosecutor Jason Napoli enters the Orleans Parish criminal courthouse for a sentencing hearing for Cardell Hayes, who was convicted of manslaughter in the shooting death of former New Orleans Saints star Will Smith, in New Orleans, Wednesday, April 19, 2017.
Buras said the sentences will be served concurrently, and Hayes will receive credit for time served.
Hayes appeared to have caught something of a break at his December trial when a jury rejected the prosecution's push for a second-degree murder verdict, which would have meant mandatory life in prison. A day earlier, Racquel Smith said all she ever wanted was for Hayes to tell her he was sorry for what happened.
This ordeal has been a nightmare for me and my family.
"I will continue to shine my light for my Superman", she said.
Later, he looked at Racquel Smith again and said "I apologize for your loss".
Hayes insisted he fired at Smith, hitting him once in the side and seven times in the back, only because he believed Smith had retrieved a gun from the SUV. 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.
"That's my baby", she cried. "Lock me up and give me my son back".
Fox 8 legal analyst Joe Raspanti criticized defense attorney John Fuller for calling Burnside to the stand.
Burnside called himself a "coward" for not coming forward immediately as a witness, but said he didn't realize the sounds he heard were related to Smith's death until he read about the shooting in the newspaper later on. "That's the most offensive part of this entire process", Rodrigue added.
Payton said he had planned for Smith to coach the Saints defensive line in 2016.
The defense has noted that Hayes owned a business towing cars and lacked any prior record of serious crimes. Surveillance video showed his Mercedes possibly bumping Hayes' Hummer, then driving off.
Evidence presented during Hayes' trial showed that Smith's 9 mm semi-automatic handgun was found loaded but unused inside his SUV. Both hulky former athletes then got out and argued in the street.
Hayes said he repeatedly shot Smith in fear for his life, but no other witness or evidence supported his belief that Smith fired a weapon. The former National Football League star's loaded gun was found in his auto, unused. Now, more than a year later, the man who pumped eight bullets into Smith is close to learning his punishment. His wife was hit in the legs.
Prosecutors have acknowledged that the former Saint had a high blood-alcohol level after spending a day at the city's annual French Quarter festival and the evening dining and drinking with friends.
Hayes, who was convicted of manslaughter and attempted manslaughter, insisted at trial that he shot in self-defense.
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