Former Ohio State player's killer sentenced to 25 years in prison

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Racquel Smith, widow of former New Orleans Saints star Will Smith, enters the Orleans Parish criminal courthouse with supporters, for a sentencing hearing for Cardell Hayes, who was convicted of manslaughter in the shooting d.

Hayes is facing a maximum of 60 years in prison after a jury found him guilty in December on one count of manslaughter for killing Will Smith and one count of attempted manslaughter for shooting Racquel Smith.

Hayes avoided the maximum sentence of 60 years, and could be released in 20 with good behavior. Hayes, who killed former New Orleans Saints star Will Smith in an argument following a traffic c.

The confrontation began when Smith's SUV appeared to bump Hayes' Hummer.

Napoli also noted the lack of evidence of any other guns being fired - no shell casings from a second gun, and no witnesses, other than Hayes, who indicated a second gun was involved.

Evidence presented during Hayes' trial showed that Smith's 9 mm semi-automatic handgun was found loaded but unused inside his SUV.

Orleans Criminal District Court Judge Camille Buras sentenced Hayes this afternoon.

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Burnside acknowledged that he didn't witness the killing, and said he didn't realize the sounds could be related to Smith's death until reading newspaper accounts. Daniel is urging the judge to give less than the minimum if she feels it's excessive.

"My family and I are extremely disappointed with today's sentencing and the leniency showed by Judge Buras for the defendant", Racquel Smith said in a statement.

Hayes appeared to have caught something of a break at his December trial when a jury decided against second-degree murder, which would have meant mandatory life in prison. A provision in the state criminal code says a sentence can not be imposed until at least 24 hours after a new trial motion is overruled. "At least with 25 he has the opportunity to be reunited with his family", said Hayes' lawyer, John Fuller, speaking outside court.

Testimony ahead of the sentence has been emotional. His wife was shot twice in a leg.

Hayes insisted he fired at Smith, hitting him once in the side and seven times in the back, only because he believed Smith had retrieved a gun from the SUV.

Wailing and shaking, the mother of the man who killed former New Orleans Saints star Will Smith pleaded for mercy from the judge who is preparing to sentence him. She presided over the trial and is familiar with all the issues raised in pre-hearing motions and a pre-sentence report she ordered.

She thanked the New Orleans District Attorney's Office and the city's police department and said she "will continue to shine my light for my Superman". Prosecutors said Smith went to his auto to retrieve his weapon only after getting shot and died in his vehicle before he could get his hands on it.

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He insisted it was self-defense, but was convicted of manslaughter in Smith's death and attempted manslaughter for wounding Smith's wife. "You and Will were (both) wrong because you operated in anger", he recalled telling Hayes.

He looked at Racquel Smith and told her he wishes the night had never happened.

Hayes faces up to 60 years in prison for manslaughter and attempted manslaughter after killing Will Smith and wounding Racquel in a confrontation that began when the Smith's auto apparently bumped his Humvee in traffic. And later, after again insisting that he acted in self-defense as Smith fired a gun at him, despite trial evidence to the contrary, he referred to the Smith family, saying, "I apologize for their loss".

Sentencing is set for Friday.

New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton took a front row seat alongside Smith's family and friends for Wednesday's hearings.

"Cardell Hayes took the stand and flat-out lied". They tearfully aimed bitter remarks at Smith's killer, Cardell Hayes. His auto had initially made contact with Hayes's vehicle, and Hayes returned the favor a few blocks later, then ended a confrontation by shooting Smith eight times, seven in the back. The judge ultimately rejected a defense motion for a retrial.

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