NEW ORLEANS, LA - SEPTEMBER 09: Will Smith #91 of the New Orleans Saints walks off the field after a play against the Washington Redskins at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on September 9, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Punishment officially handed down to the man police say shot and killed an NFL player


Cardell Hayes was found guilty of manslaughter and attempted manslaughter in the road rage shooting death of former New Orleans Saints All-Pro Will Hayes, the wounding of Racquel Smith, Will's wife back in December. The sentence was supposed to be handed down in February, but the punishment has just been handed down on Thursday according to the Associated Press. Hayes will spend 25 years in prison as Judge Camile Buras has decided.

RELATED: Verdict reached in the shooting death of former New Orleans Saint Will Smith

Hayes faced up to 60 years if given consecutive maximum terms for manslaughter and attempted manslaughter. Instead, Judge Buras gave him 15 years for shooting Racquel Smith in the legs, to be served at the same time. The 29-year old Hayes will receive a year of credit for time he's already served as well.

Smith's widow and her family left court without saying anything. Prosecutor Christopher Bowman would say only that "the district attorney and the Smith family are disappointed with the sentence."


The defense has noted that Hayes owned a business towing cars and lacked any prior record of serious crimes. His lawyers say he feared for his life when he encountered a drunken and angry Smith that night.

Prosecutors have acknowledged that the former Saint had a high blood-alcohol level after spending a day at the city's annual French Quarter festival and the evening dining and drinking with friends. They said he did nothing to provoke the shooting.