Tears, pleas for mercy for ex-Saint's killer

In December, Hayes, 29, was convicted of manslaughter for killing Smith and attempted manslaughter for shooting and injuring Racquel Smith. Prosecutors have suggested the maximum 60 years. But Fuller said that would have meant his 29-year-old client would die in prison.

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.

"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".

As she puts it, "I will continue to shine my light for my Superman".

Cardell Hayes, convicted of manslaughter in the April 9, 2016 shooting death of former New Orleans Saints defensive end Will Smith, and attempted manslaughter for shooting Smith's wife, has been ordered to a 25 year sentence for manslaughter, and 15 years for attempted manslaughter. Manslaughter carries a maximum 40-year sentence; attempted manslaughter carries a maximum 20-year sentence.

Hayes' defense argued unsuccessfully that he shot Smith in self-defense after getting into a confrontation following a vehicle collision in the Lower Garden District.

Smith's widow, Racquel, addressed the court and Hayes directly expressing grief over her loss and telling Hayes to own up to his actions.

Hayes claimed self-defense, but no other witness or evidence supported his belief that Smith was firing at him.

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

The bushy-haired, bearded witness appeared near tears at times and twice let slip a profanity on the stand as he insisted that he heard two guns fired when Smith was killed. Hayes' mother, his girlfriend and Hayes himself spoke Thursday before the judge made her ruling.

Defense attorney Jay Daniel said Hayes truly believes he was in danger when he shot Smith during an argument over traffic past 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 in prison.

Hayes' lawyers presented a motion to get a new trial, which was denied.

In sometimes rambling and emotional testimony, a New Orleans man is insisting he heard gunfire from two different weapons when Will Smith was shot to death previous year. She said that Hayes caused "great bodily harm" and used a weapon in commission of a crime.

Hayes' defense said after the trial that Smith's popularity led to a rush to judgment by police and prosecutors. She also noted the huge emotion surrounding this case, which lasted roughly one year from Hayes' original indictment. Wailing and shaking, she pleaded for mercy from the judge and begged for the Smiths to forgive her son.

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Hayes' mother, Dawn Mumphrey, later took the stand.

Hayes shot Smith to death in April 2016 during a traffic dispute.

Leading up to the sentencing, the past day and a half in Criminal District Court Judge Camille Buras' courtroom has featured gripping testimony from both sides.

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.

Hayes is again insisting that he acted in self-defense as Smith fired a gun at him, despite evidence to the contrary at trial.

New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton took a front row seat alongside Smith's family and friends for the hearing.

Saints coach Sean Payton testified Wednesday that had Smith survived, he would have hired him as an assistant. They tearfully aimed bitter remarks at Smith's killer, Cardell Hayes.

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