Trial Begins for Man Accused of Killing Former New Orleans Saints Star Amidst Explosive Allegations

New Orleans, LA – A highly anticipated trial is set to begin on Monday for a man accused of killing former New Orleans Saints star, Will Smith. Cardell Hayes will finally face justice after his attorneys made shocking allegations just days before the selection of a jury. The trial will consist of 12 jurors and three alternatives, with opening statements scheduled for Tuesday.

In 2016, Hayes admitted to shooting and killing Smith but claimed it was an act of self-defense. Although he was initially convicted, the verdict was later overturned due to a non-unanimous jury decision. However, Hayes will now have to defend himself in court once again.

Leading up to the trial, Hayes’ attorney, Sarrah Chervinsky, accused District Attorney Jason Williams and his team of withholding crucial evidence. Specifically, Chervinsky alleged that four witness testimony tapes, including that of Smith’s wife, Raquel Smith, had either been lost or stolen by the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD). In response, Williams expressed surprise at the accusations, stating that all evidence had been provided to the defense. The judge ruled that the missing evidence needed to be presented for the trial, though a decision on whether the jury would be informed of its absence would be considered.

The judge also made it clear that no character attacks on Smith would be allowed during the trial. Sources indicate that Hayes will proceed to trial, and no plea deal is expected to be reached. A total of 89 jurors will be called, and the judge intends for the jury selection to be completed in just one day. Unlike Hayes’ previous trial, the jury will not be sequestered.

In related news, a new trial date has been set for Cardell Hayes, moving it from February to January 2024. This change comes after it appeared Hayes might plead guilty to manslaughter and attempted manslaughter to avoid a new trial. Last year, it was reported that Hayes had agreed to such a plea for the shooting that resulted in the death of Smith and injury to his wife. However, the plea agreement fell apart during court proceedings.

In April 2016, Hayes was initially charged with murder and attempted murder. However, a jury voted 10-2 to convict him of manslaughter and attempted manslaughter instead. In 2020, Hayes was among the approximately 100 Louisiana prisoners affected by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that banned non-unanimous jury verdicts for those who had not yet exhausted their appeals. As a result, Hayes could not be retried for murder since the split jury had convicted him on lesser charges.

Despite the delays caused by the pandemic, Hayes has been free since March 2021 while awaiting his new trial. As the trial finally gets underway, both the prosecution and the defense will present their cases and seek to bring justice to the tragic killing of Will Smith.