NEW ORLEANS — A scheduled retrial in the case of Cardell Hayes, who was previously convicted in the shooting death of former Saints player Will Smith is now off.
WWL-TV Investigator Mike Perlstein says that witnesses who were scheduled to testify in the retrial have been told they aren’t needed Monday, the day the trial was supposed to begin. That sets the stage for a plea being entered by Hayes on Monday.
NOLA.com reported Wednesday that Hayes had agreed to plead guilty to manslaughter in the shooting. WWL-TV also knows that a second hearing in the case has been set for Wednesday, presumably for sentencing by Judge Camille Buras.
Earlier Thursday, Orleans Parish District Attorney Jason Williams said that despite the report on NOLA.com no plea deal has been agreed to.
“There is no plea deal,” he said in an email sent to news outlets Thursday afternoon. “No reduction of charges has been offered by this office.”
Hayes was convicted by a 10-2 jury vote in December 2016 in the shooting death of Smith and the shooting of his wife, Racquel, in both of her legs.
Hayes was released on bond pending a new trial in 2021 after the Supreme Court ruled against non-unanimous jury verdicts.
“As we prepare for next week’s trial, we cannot make presumptions about the final resolution. The direction to my team has been clear in this case from day one. We will fight vigorously for justice for Raquel, her children and Will,” said Williams. “Not only has Raquel had to cope with this tremendous tragedy and guide their children through the loss of a husband and father, but they’ve also felt the siege of relentless misinformation from strangers and antagonists on social media. We will continue to put our best efforts toward bringing justice and closure to this family.”