Man who killed ex-Saints player Will Smith has conviction overturned

Cardell Hayes fatally shot Smith in 2016 during an argument after he rear-ended Smith's car

The decision to convict Cardell Hayes in the death of former NFL player Will Smith has been overturned.

On Monday, the Supreme Court dismissed the case based on another occurrence, which decided in criminal cases, non-unanimous verdicts are unconstitutional.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v New Orleans Saints
Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

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According to People Magazine, Hayes fatally shot Smith in April 2016. Hayes initially faced murder charges and attempted murder charges because he also shot Will’s wife, Raquel, but she survived. After a week-long trial, he was charged with manslaughter for shooting Smith and attempted manslaughter for Raquel.

Will and Hayes apparently got into a verbal altercation and “exchanged words” after Hayes rear-ended their vehicle. He then “produced a handgun and shot Smith multiple times,” per a press release obtained by People.

“In accordance with the United States Supreme Court ruling in Ramos v. Louisiana, which struck down Louisiana’s Jim Crow-era non-unanimous jury law, today the U.S. Supreme Court remanded two cases to lower courts for a new trial,” said Attorney Jason Williams, Orleans Parish District. Williams will play a part in deciding if a new case should be pursued against Hayes.

Hayes initially received a 10-2 vote.

“Both of those cases — one well known, and one relatively unknown to the public — will receive thorough review and a decision in the coming weeks on the best way to proceed under the law to deliver justice,” said Williams.

The court also vacated the conviction of Reginald Jones who was found guilty based on a split vote.

Cardell Hayes and Will Smith Photo: theGrio

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TheGrio reported on the case in 2016 and Hayes said he acted in self defense.

Hayes vehemently denied intentionally running into Smith’s Mercedes SUV moments later — he said he was trying to dial 911 and didn’t realize how close he was getting to Smith as he tried to report the apparent hit-and-run.

Hayes said he armed himself only after he and his own passenger were accosted by Smith and Richard Hernandez, one of the passengers in the Smiths’ Mercedes.

Smith didn’t initially notice the gun, Hayes reported. Hernandez alerted Smith to Hayes’ gun at some point during the fast-unfolding melee, Hayes said under questioning.

On cross-examination, Assistant Orleans Parish District Attorney Jason Napoli repeatedly noted that no other witness said Smith had a gun and that Hayes never told investigators he saw a gun in Smith’s hands that night.

Hayes’ defense lawyers said Smith’s popularity led to a rush to judgment by police and prosecutors. Assistant District Attorney Laura Rodriguez said in turn that the defense was trying to smear Smith.

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