And near the end of his testimony, he choked up, declaring: "Man, he was special".
The defense has noted the absence of any serious criminal record and has said Hayes, a tow truck business owner and the father of a 6-year-old son, feared for his life when he encountered a drunken, belligerent Smith in the traffic dispute. Instead, Judge Camille Buras gave him 15 years for shooting Racquel Smith in the legs, to be served at the same time. Being away from my son for 60 years, what's the difference from being dead?
Cardell Hayes, the man who murdered former New Orleans Saints star Will Smith during a traffic dispute, apologized to Smith's widow - Racquel Smith - in court on Thursday.
She referenced a 2016 recording of a prison phone conversation, played at trial, in which Hayes called Racquel Smith "a phony" and Mumphrey also disparaged her. She accused him of lying to support a more lenient sentence.
Smith was cast during the trial as a beloved community leader and a football hero, part of the Saints team that lifted the city's spirits after Hurricane Katrina and later won a Super Bowl.
Fuller objected to the denial of a new trial and invoked Hayes' right for a 48-hour delay of the imposition of his sentence.
"Cardell Hayes took the stand and flat-out lied".
A prosecutor is calling a newly found defense witness in the killing of former New Orleans Saints star Will Smith "certifiably insane".
Assistant District Attorney Jason Napoli used the term after the sometimes emotional and rambling testimony of Michael Burnside.
Appearing in court with wild mane of hair and a bushy beard, Burnside appeared near tears at times and twice let slip a profanity.
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NEW ORLEANS (AP) The defense will get a chance to make its case for leniency Thursday when a sentencing hearing resumes in the shooting death of former New Orleans Saints star Will Smith.
Napoli noted that in fact, another shooting had happened in the same area just 45 minutes or so before Smith was killed. No additional shell casings have been found, he said, and no witnesses other than Hayes have pointed to a second gun.
Wednesday's testimony veered into the freaky as the defense called a man who claimed to hear the sounds of two different guns, the night Smith was shot in the Lower Garden District. Hayes's lawyers are seeking a new trial.
Burnside, in his 50s, testified that he was at his home, near the site of the shooting, when Smith was killed. He heard a series of "baps" from a low-recoil weapon, then a series of at least eight "booms" from a larger weapon.
He didn't witness Smith's killing and said he didn't realize the sounds could be related to Smith's death until reading newspaper accounts. He 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.
Speaking to reporters during his annual pre-draft press conference, New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton indicated that the team was set to hire former defensive end Will Smith before he was killed last April.
Racquel Smith filed one against Hayes, and Richard Hernandez, a passenger in Smith's auto that night, sued both Smith and Hayes, accusing both of aggressiveness and drunkenness, and seeking damages for personal injuries. The motion is expected to be argued Wednesday, the same day Hayes is scheduled to be sentenced.
That might push a final decision on sentencing to later in the week even if Buras rejects the motion.
Cardell Hayes faced up to 60 years if given consecutive maximum terms for manslaughter and attempted manslaughter.