Retrial date set for man accused in ex-Saints player’s death

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The man whose manslaughter conviction in the death of former Saints player Will Smith was overturned is scheduled to be tried again in August.

Orleans Parish Criminal District Judge Camille Buras set the Aug. 22 date for Cardell Hayes’ retrial on Monday after a conference with Hayes’ attorney, John Fuller, and Orleans Parish prosecutors, The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate reported.

Hayes’ retrial was initially scheduled for Oct. 18, 2021, but was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic and Hurricane Ida. It was rescheduled for Monday then postponed again.

Hayes was convicted in December 2016 of manslaughter and attempted manslaughter, eight months after Smith was killed and his wife wounded during an argument with Hayes. But the U.S. Supreme Court overturned his convictions in July after finding nonunanimous jury verdicts unconstitutional.

Authorities said Hayes, 34, hit Smith’s sport utility vehicle with his car following a fender bender moments before. The men began arguing. After Smith began to walk away, Hayes shot Smith seven times in the back and once in the side, they have said. A shot also hit Racquel Smith in her leg.

Hayes said he fired in self-defense and that Smith had a weapon — a claim that witnesses at his trial did not corroborate.

After his first trial ended with a 10-2 verdict, Hayes was sentenced to 25 years in prison. He was serving that sentence when the nation’s high court overturned his conviction last year. He’s currently free on bond while awaiting a new trial.

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