May 27, 2024

The retrial for the man accused of fatally shooting former New Orleans Saints star Will Smith began with jury selection on Monday, almost eight years after the incident. Cardell Hayes, 36, has consistently claimed self-defense in the April 2016 shooting, which occurred following a car crash. Will Smith died in the incident, and his wife, Racquel Smith, sustained gunshot wounds.

Conviction of Former New Orleans Saints Player Will Smith's Killer  Overturned

Racquel Smith was present in court on Monday, seated behind New Orleans District Attorney Jason Williams, who is leading the prosecution. Ten jurors were selected by late Monday afternoon, with opening arguments anticipated as early as Tuesday.

Hayes had previously been convicted of manslaughter and attempted manslaughter a few months after the shooting, but the verdict was 10-2. The U.S. Supreme Court later ruled that such convictions must be unanimous. Following the reversal of the conviction, Hayes was released on bond after serving over four years of a 25-year sentence.

During his initial trial in December 2016, Hayes asserted that he shot Will Smith in self-defense, believing Smith was armed and belligerent. Hayes claimed to have heard a sound before firing, hitting Smith. Despite evidence of Smith’s intoxication, there was no supporting witness or forensic evidence for Hayes’ claim that Smith had a weapon.

The retrial has faced multiple delays, including those related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Will Smith, a 34-year-old father of three, had been a defensive leader for the Saints, contributing to the team’s success after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The retrial will further examine the circumstances surrounding the tragic incident.

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