Man Who Fatally Shot NFL Star Will Smith Found Guilty Of Manslaughter

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A verdict was reached in the shooting death of former NFL star Will Smith.

READ Former New Orleans Saints Will Smith Killed In Road Rage Dispute

NBC News reports Cardell Hayes, 29, was found guilty of manslaughter on Sunday (Dec. 11) as well as attempted manslaughter for wounding Smith’s widow Raquel in the leg during a traffic incident turned deadly. The incident happened in April when Smith reportedly bumped his Mercedes vehicle into Hayes’ Hummer after driving from an outing. Surveillance footage showed the two men in an altercation Hayes shooting Smith on his side and seven times in the back.

Hayes was placed in handcuffs following the verdict as members closest to him broke down in tears. John Fuller, Hayes’s defense attorney, said that his client’s decision to shoot Smith was based on self-defense. Fuller argued Hayes loved the former football star and didn’t realize it was Smith when the shooting occurred. He later explained Hayes “tried his best” and tried to “avoid what he had to do.”

Saints coach, Sean Payton, and other players showed their support for Smith’s wife by attending the trial. The Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office expressed their thoughts on the verdict, “The District Attorney is gratified by the verdict. It was victory for the Smith family as well as the citizens of New Orleans.”

Lauren Renschler, a spokesperson for the Smith family, said, “Racquel’s heart is full of gratitude for the entire staff of the New Orleans District Attorney’s Office and the members of the police department who worked tirelessly on this case.”

Hayes faces a sentence of 20 to 40 years in prison. He will be sentenced February 2017.

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