October retrial set for Cardell Hayes in Saints player Will Smith’s death


FILE – In this Dec. 9, 2012, file photo, New Orleans Saints defensive end Will Smith appears before an NFL football game against the New York Giants in East Rutherford, N.J. Cardell Hayes, who fatally shot former NFL star Smith following a 2016 traffic collision, has a bond hearing scheduled Thursday, March 4, 2021, seeking freedom after his manslaughter conviction in Smith’s death was overturned because his trial jury’s vote was not unanimous. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun, File)

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WDSU) — The man who faces a second trial for the 2016 shooting death of former New Orleans Saints star Will Smith was back in court Wednesday for a final pre-trial hearing ahead of his second trial.

Judge Camille Buras said Cardell Hayes’ case is “in a trial posture,” and set the second trial date for Oct. 18.

The trial was originally set for July.

The pre-trial hearing will likely also address how Orleans Criminal District Court will handle COVID-19 restrictions for jurors.

Hayes is getting a new trial after the U.S. Supreme Court vacated his manslaughter and attempted manslaughter convictions earlier this year. The high court ruled in 2020 that non-unanimous juries are unconstitutional. Hayes was sentenced to 25 years in prison.

Prosecutors had pursued a second-degree murder charge against Hayes after Smith was killed and his wife, Racquel, wounded in the Lower Garden District following a minor traffic mishap that escalated into an argument between the two men. Hayes has maintained that he acted in self-defense. Investigators determined Smith had a handgun in his car, but there was no indication that he handled it that night.

Racquel Smith asked Buras to deny bond for Hayes, saying that his family was harassing and threatening her online. The judge has forbidden Hayes’ relatives from contacting Racquel Smith and restricted their social media use.

Hayes’ new trial will be on charges of manslaughter and attempted manslaughter. He posted $225,000 bond in order to be released from Elayn Hunt Correctional Center in St. Gabriel, where he had been held since his 2017 conviction.

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