Retrial date set for man who claims self-defense in shooting death of former NFL star Will Smith

Cardell Hayes enters Orleans Parish Criminal District Court in New Orleans, Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2023, for a hearing regarding his retrial for shooting former NFL star Will Smith. Hayes fatally shot Smith, who had retired from the New Orleans Saints, and wounded his wife, in a confrontation after a 2016 traffic crash. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A Feb. 5 retrial date was set Wednesday for the man whose 2016 manslaughter conviction in the shooting death of former NFL star Will Smith was overturned because the jury’s verdict was not unanimous.

Cardell Hayes, 36, has long insisted he shot Smith in self-defense during an April 2016 confrontation after a car crash.

At his December 2016 trial, he said 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 his SUV. He insisted on the stand that he heard a “pop” before he started shooting and that he did not shoot at Smith’s wife, who was hit in the legs.

There was no other witness and no forensic evidence to back up Hayes’ claim that Smith had wielded or fired a weapon.

Hayes was convicted of manslaughter for Smith’s death and attempted manslaughter in the wounding of Smith’s wife, Raquel. He had served about four years of a 25-year sentence when his conviction was overturned after the U.S. Supreme Court outlawed nonunanimous verdicts. He has been out on bond since early 2021. His retrial has been delayed multiple times for a variety of reasons, including the COVID-19 pandemic.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *