The Orleans District Attorney’s office says they are disappointed Cardell Hayes was sentenced to 25 years behind bars for a fatal road rage shooting in New Orleans that left former Saints star Will Smith dead and his wife, Raquel, injured. Legal analyst Tim Meche believes Judge Camille Buras handed down a fair sentence.
“She’s probably handled or presided over a thousand cases like this. She knows what an appropriate sentence is for a case like this,” Meche said.
Hayes was facing 20 to 60 years in prison after being convicted of manslaughter and attempted manslaughter four months ago. During the sentencing phase of the trial, Hayes took the stand and apologized to the Smith family for their loss and once again claimed he acted in self-defense. The prosecution used Saints Head Coach Sean Payton as a character witness for Smith. But Meche says the judge was not swayed by the notoriety of Smith or his witnesses.
“She issued a fair, normal sentence that would have been issued to someone that the media would not have even covered under these circumstances,” Meche said.
Prosecutor Chris Bowman also said the Smith family was not happy with the sentence. But Meche says Buras realized this wasn’t a calculated coldblooded murder for no reason. He says Smith could have diffused the situation with Hayes that night, and he chose not to.
“The fact of the matter is Mr. Smith had something to do with his demise. He was drunk. He engaged in an encounter with Mr. Hayes,” Meche said.
The Hayes family says in response to the sentencing that they are hurt but not broken.