NEW ORLEANS, LA (WGNO/WUTR/WFXV/WPNY) — The man accused in the shooting death of former Proctor standout and Saints player Will Smith is set to go to trial in 2024.
Cardell Hayes appeared in court on Monday, Sept. 18 in connection to the 2016 incident that left the former Saints defensive end dead and his wife Racquel Smith wounded.
The fatal incident happened after an argument between him and Smith. During the encounter, Hayes stated he believed Smith went to his car to get a gun, but there was apparently no evidence to prove his claim.
Hayes was sentenced back in 2017 by a non-unanimous jury to 25 years in prison for the crime but was released nearly five years later after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that non-unanimous verdicts in felony trials violated the Sixth Amendment of the Constitution.
In Tuesday’s hearing, State District Judge Camille Buras announced a continuance that would delay the retrial.
On Wednesday, Sept. 20, Hayes did not enter a plea deal as was previously expected.
New Orleans District Attorney Jason Willaims responded to State District Judge Camille Buras’ setting a trial date, “I wish we were in the third day of the trial right now. It’s deeply frustrating that we had a date locked in, and they said that they wanted to plead guilty as charged, no reduction of the charge, and accept responsibility for shooting Raquel for shooting Will eight times in the back.”
Hayes’ new trial date is set for Feb. 5, 2024.