NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The Latest on the sentencing hearing for Cardell Hayes, convicted in the 2016 shooting death of former New Orleans Saints star Will Smith (all times local):
A defense attorney for the man sentenced to 25 years for killing retired New Orleans Saints star Will Smith says the sentence at least gives him a chance to be reunited with his family one day.
John Fuller, defense attorney for Cardell Hayes, spoke to reporters Thursday outside the courthouse after a judge sentenced Hayes to 25 years for manslaughter in the death of Will Smith and the wounding of his wife Racquel.
Prosecutors called for the maximum of 60 years. But Fuller said that would have meant his 29-year-old client would die in prison.
With 25 years, Fuller said "... he has the opportunity to be reunited with his family."
Racquel Smith says she and her family are "extremely disappointed" with what she calls a lenient sentence for the man who killed her husband, New Orleans Saints star Will Smith. Cardell Hayes was sentenced Thursday to 25 years for manslaughter.
She says they were hopeful Judge Camille Buras would impose a stronger sentence to "more justly reflect" her family's pain and loss.
"There are no winners here today," her statement says. The "sentencing does not bring back Will and leaves another child, (Hayes' son), to grow up without a father."
Smith praised prosecutors and police, and said she and their three children, Willie, Lisa and Wynter, will carry on his legacy of love for his community.
As she puts it, "I will continue to shine my light for my Superman."
The man who killed retired New Orleans Saints star Will Smith and wounded his wife during a traffic dispute last year has been sentenced to 25 years in prison, far less than the maximum.
Louisiana district Judge Camille Buras sentenced 29-year-old Cardell Hayes to 25 years for manslaughter and 15 for attempted manslaughter. He had faced up to 60 years if the maximum sentences were to be served consecutively.
Hayes repeatedly shot Smith in the back as the men argued in the street the night of April 9, 2016. The confrontation began when Smith's SUV appeared to bump Hayes' Hummer. Hayes then followed the Smiths and slammed into them.
Hayes claimed self-defense, but no other witness or evidence supported his belief that Smith was firing at him. The former NFL star's loaded gun was found in his car, unused.
A prosecutor is calling for maximum punishment for the killer of New Orleans Saints star Will Smith.
Assistant New Orleans District Attorney Laura Rodrigue dismissed the tears shed earlier Thursday by Cardell Hayes, and by Hayes' mother, Dawn Mumphrey, as a "desperate attempt" to gain sympathy from state Judge Camille Buras.
Rodrigue also hammered away at Hayes's insistence — contradicted by testimony and evidence — that he shot Smith only after Smith grabbed a gun and fired.
Defense attorney Jay Daniel said Hayes truly believes he was in danger when he shot Smith during an argument over traffic last year. Daniel is urging the judge to give less than the minimum if she feels it's excessive.
The judge is expected announce the sentence soon. Hayes could get up to 60 years if sentenced to consecutive terms for manslaughter in Smith's death and attempted manslaughter for wounding Smith's wife.
The man convicted of killing former New Orleans Saints star Will Smith in a dispute over traffic could soon learn whether he'll spend as much as 60 years in prison.
The judge had been expected to announce the sentence Friday, but defense attorney John Fuller said he expects Cardell Hayes will learn his fate Thursday afternoon.
That would likely require Fuller to waive a 48-hour wait period that went into effect Wednesday when Fuller moved for a new trial, a motion quickly rejected by the judge.
Testimony ahead of the sentence has been emotional. Smith's widow Racquel accused Hayes of lying. Hayes insisted he fired in self-defense, but apologized to the Smith family. And Hayes' mother pleaded through her tears for mercy for her son.
Wailing and shaking, the mother of the man who killed former New Orleans Saints star Will Smith pleaded for mercy from the judge who is preparing to sentence him.
Dawn Mumphrey also begged for the Smiths to forgive her son, 29-year-old Cardell Hayes, as she testified at a pre-sentence hearing Thursday.
Hayes, facing up to 60 years in prison, sat hunched over at the defense table as his mother sobbed uncontrollably.
Hayes shot Smith to death in April 2016 during a traffic dispute.
He insisted it was self-defense, but was convicted of manslaughter in Smith's death and attempted manslaughter for wounding Smith's wife.
State District Judge Camille Buras is expected to announce her sentence Friday.
The man who killed retired New Orleans Saints star Will Smith has been breaking down in tears over being separated from his little boy.
Cardell Hayes was the first witness called Thursday as the defense began to make its case for leniency. Regaining his composure, he looked at Smith's widow Racquel and told her he wishes the night had never happened.
Hayes faces up to 60 years in prison for manslaughter and attempted manslaughter after killing Will Smith and wounding Racquel in a confrontation that began when the Smith's car apparently bumped his Humvee in traffic.
Hayes is again insisting that he acted in self-defense as Smith fired a gun at him, despite evidence to the contrary at trial.
Later, he looked at Racquel Smith again and said "I apologize for your loss."
A judge is expected to announce the sentence Friday.
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's widow and other loved ones took the stand at a pre-sentence hearing Wednesday. They tearfully aimed bitter remarks at Smith's killer, Cardell Hayes.
The 29-year-old owner of a tow-truck business could be sentenced to 60 years for fatally shooting Smith and wounding Smith's wife in a confrontation after a traffic crash last year.
Hayes insisted at trial that it was self-defense. But he was convicted of manslaughter and attempted manslaughter.
His family and friends were in the courtroom Wednesday and some may be called to the stand Thursday to support Hayes.
Judge Camille Buras is expected to sentence Hayes no later than Friday.