Man convicted of killing Saints player Will Smith has conviction vacated

Local News

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WDSU) — The man found guilty of shooting and killing former Saints star Will Smith has had his conviction thrown out by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Justices vacated the conviction of Cardell Hayes on Monday. Police said Hayes fired the shots that killed Smith and wounded his wife after a minor traffic mishap led to a confrontation in the Lower Garden District.

Eight months after the shooting, a jury convicted Hayes with a 10-2 vote, and Judge Camille Buras sentenced him to 25 years in jail.

Last year, the Supreme Court ruled non-unanimous juries were unconstitutional. Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro then filed documents to concur with Hayes’ defense attorneys to have the high court vacate the conviction.

Louisiana was one of the last two states, with Oregon, that allowed felony convictions with 10-2 jury votes in non-capital cases. Voters amended the state constitution in November 2018 to require unanimous juries in all felony trials.

The charges against Hayes still stand and it will be up to new District Attorney Jason Williams, who took the oath of office Monday, to decide if there will be a new trial.

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