Man who killed ex-Saint Will Smith found guilty of manslaughter

Cardell Hayes claimed self-defense in the incident. (Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office via AP)

The man who admitted to killing former Saint Will Smith was found guilty of manslaughter Sunday by a New Orleans jury. Cardell Hayes, a tow truck operator and a native of that city, was also found guilty of attempted manslaughter for shooting Smith’s wife, Racquel, in the legs in the same incident.

Prosecutors had sought a second-degree murder conviction for Hayes, which would have brought a life sentence, but instead the 29-year-old will spend between 20 and 40 years in prison for manslaughter. Sentencing is set for Feb. 17, 2017.

Smith, a defensive end who played for the Saints from 2004 to 2012 and helped the team win its only Super Bowl, was fatally shot in a road-rage incident in April. His car had initially made contact with Hayes’s in a New Orleans neighborhood, and Hayes returned the favor a few blocks later, then ended a confrontation by shooting Smith eight times, seven in the back.

Hayes and his attorneys had argued that he fired his gun in self-defense, claiming that Smith, 34, was reaching for a gun he kept in his car. Prosecutors said that Smith went to his car to retrieve his…