Judge puts Cardell Hayes bail on hold after emotional plea from widow of Will Smith


NEW ORLEANS – Cardell Hayes’ family said nothing as they left the Orleans Parish Criminal Courthouse Thursday morning, but the disappointment was evident.

They were hoping that bail would be set for Hayes, convicted four years ago of killing Saints star Will Smith and injuring his wife in a road rage incident on Magazine Street.

While Hayes was charged with second degree murder in Smith’s death, a jury found him guilty of manslaughter with a verdict of 10-2.

The U.S. Supreme Court dismissed Hayes’ conviction in January after ruling the non-unanimous verdicts were unconstitutional. His lawyers wanted a bond low enough that he could be released from prison before any possible new trial.

They declined to comment after the hearing, but recently said they were hopeful that bail would be appropriate on a manslaughter charge.

“His link should be based on the charge of manslaughter and not second degree murder,” defense lawyer Eric Santana said last week.

But Judge Camille Buras said she would take the time to decide whether to establish a new bond, in part because of the moving testimony of Racquel Smith, Will Smith’s widow.

Racquel Smith testified in tears on a Zoom call, saying she didn’t think Hayes should have the chance to break free.

“I promised my kids the day he was sentenced that they didn’t have to worry about this man,” Racquel Smith told court. “He doesn’t deserve to get bail. … He sentenced my whole family to life imprisonment.
Buras will fix the Hayes tie on March 16.


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