Cardell Hayes, the man who shot and killed retired Saints star, Will Smith, and wounded Smith’s wife, Racquel, has officially been sentenced to 25 years in prison for manslaughter. His lenient sentencing, which Racquel isn’t too pleased with, is also far less than the maximum prosecutors aimed for.
Hayes was facing up to 60 years in consecutive maximum terms, including 40 for manslaughter and 20 for attempted manslaughter, when he shot Racquel in the legs, but the judge presiding, Camille Buras, instead gave him 15 for shooting Racquel in the same 25 year sentence.
Smith’s lawyers have attempted to counter defense the official ruling, believing they were attempted to sully Smith. Ultimately, the judge denied their motion for a retrial.
Hayes’ lawyer, John Fuller, conveyed his sentiments on the ruling:
“If he was sentenced to 60 years he probably could have died in jail. At least with 25 he has the opportunity to be reunited with his family.”
Following the trial, Racquel released a statement expressing her uneasiness during the entire experience.
“My family and I are extremely disappointed with today’s sentencing and the leniency showed by Judge Buras for the defendant. While we know nothing will ever bring Will back, we were hopeful that Judge Buras would have issued a stronger sentence to more justly reflect both the nature of the crimes and the tremendous loss and pain that my family has suffered as a result of Mr. Hayes’ violent actions on the night of April 9, 2016. This ordeal has been a nightmare for me and my family. There are no winners here today. Today’s sentencing does not bring back Will and leaves another child to grow up without a father. I pray for the other families of New Orleans that are dealing with the same tragedy that comes with the loss of life at the hands of senseless violence.
She continues on remembering her late husband:
Will loved this city and we must do better together to enact serious change so that Will’s unnecessary murder is not in vain. Each day we continue to heal and work through our pain and feelings of enormous loss. Will’s dedication to his family, his love for his community and his desire to live life to the fullest will continue to inspire me, Willie, Lisa, Wynter and everyone else who loved him. We are hopeful that we can finally focus on what brings us joy — remembering Will for the man he was and the life he lived. We will carry our memories of Will with us every day for the rest of our lives.”