25 years for ex-Saint's killer in 'profoundly sad' case

Buras could have sentenced Hayes to serve anywhere from 20 to 60 years for his December 11 convictions for manslaughter and attempted manslaughter.

Hayes had faced a maximum of 60 years in prison, 40 years for manslaughter and 20 years for attempted manslaughter, according to Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro.

"Everything that happened that night, I wish it had never happened", Hayes told Racquel Smith in court this week.

"There are no winners here today", her statement says.

Hayes and his attorneys had argued in the Orleans Parish Criminal District Court trial that he fired his gun in self-defense, claiming that Smith, 34, was reaching for a gun he kept in his auto.

Smith was cast during the trial not only as a football hero — part of the Saints team that lifted the stricken city's spirits after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and the one that won a Super Bowl in 2010 — but also a beloved community leader who settled in New Orleans after retirement. And later, after again insisting that he acted in self-defense as Smith fired a gun at him, despite trial evidence to the contrary, he referred to the Smith family, saying, "I apologize for their loss". Faia also said that Ceravolo's private security business could have suffered if potential clients believed the allegations against him.

A gun was found in Smith's SUV — loaded but unfired.

Assistant New Orleans District Attorney Laura Rodrigue dismissed the tears as a "desperate attempt" to gain sympathy, and hammered at Hayes' claim of self-defense.

Racquel Smith, widow of former New Orleans Saints star Will Smith, arrives at the Orleans Parish criminal courthouse on Thursday for the sentencing hearing.

My family and I are extremely disappointed with today's sentencing and the leniency showed by Judge Buras for the defendant. He was given 15 years for shooting Raquel Smith.

Hayes never looked at his mother as she testified.

"Cardell Hayes took the stand and flat-out lied".

The defense gets a chance to make its case for leniency Thursday in the shooting death of former New Orleans Saints star Will Smith. Smith, 34, was struck by eight bullets, including seven in the back, and died at the scene. Security video showed Smith's auto rear-ending Hayes' on Magazine Street, minutes before Hayes then crashed into Smith's vehicle a few blocks away. Hayes then followed the Smiths and slammed into them.

A jury convicted him of manslaughter and attempted manslaughter for shooting Smith's wife in the leg.

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 said he armed himself only after he and his own passenger were accosted by Smith and Richard Hernandez, a passenger in Smith's Mercedes. Prosecutors countered that the defense was trying to smear Smith.

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