A Louisiana jury has found Cardell Hayes guilty of manslaughter, a crime that carries a prison sentence of up to 40 years. The jury also found him guilty of attempted manslaughter for shooting Smith’s wife, Racquel. The judge stated that he would be sentenced to a 20- to 60-year term, but that any less would decrease the severity of the crime. Hayes will be sentenced by the jury on February 17.
New Orleans’ defense attorney will likely try to push for the postponement or retry of Cardell Hayes. Prosecutors will argue that the trial should be delayed until after the COVID-19 pandemic has been contained. The jury could find Hayes guilty again of murder if he is not found guilty by the judge.
A pathologist’s report showed that Smith was legally drunk when he died. The two men were in a car together at the French Quarter festival. They were driving towards the city center when Hayes allegedly ran into them. According to the police, Hayes’ vehicle struck Smith’s Mercedes SUV from behind and was shot multiple times. Hayes, despite his plea of not guilty to the charges, will have to spend at least 40 years prison.
After the judge had set it several weeks ago, the retrial date was set for Monday. Although Hayes was originally convicted of attempted murder and second-degree murder, his verdict was vacated because of non-unanimous juries. The Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office awaits a ruling by the state Supreme Court in a similar case to Hayes’. The fate of the men will be decided by the jury in the interim.
The Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office will ask the court for Hayes to be retried. They will claim that the jury pool is not available due to Hurricane Ida’s recovery period. A jury will be selected in April 2022. It is not clear if Hayes will be convicted for the crimes that led Smith’s murder. His trial is expected to proceed. His defense will be heard by the jury.
Smith was shot in the back during an argument with Hayes. In 2016, Hayes was convicted by the jury of attempted manslaughter. However, the U.S. Supreme Court retried his convictions in July. The jury was not unanimous, so prosecutors will try again if necessary. Hayes is currently free on bail but his family hopes for a new trial in the near future.