The Latest: Coach Sean Payton says Will Smith 'was special'April 19, 2017 9:31pm

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The Latest on hearings for Cardell Hayes, who was convicted of manslaughter in the shooting death of former New Orleans Saints star Will Smith (all times local):

4 p.m.

New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton capped an emotional day of testimony at a pre-sentencing hearing for the killer of retired Saints star Will Smith.

Payton said he had planned for Smith to coach the Saints defensive line in 2016. And near the end of his testimony, he choked up, declaring: "Man, he was special."

Earlier, Smith's widow, Racquel, and others among Smith's loved ones had bitter words for 29-year-old Cardell Hayes, who fatally shot Smith and wounded Racquel a year ago during a traffic dispute.

On Thursday, the defense will make its case against a harsh sentence for Hayes, who was convicted in December of manslaughter and attempted manslaughter. Prosecutors have suggested the maximum 60 years.


3:30 p.m.

The widow of former New Orleans Saints star Will Smith says their daughter fears the day his killer gets out of jail.

Racquel Smith was among many giving "victim impact" statements Wednesday at a pre-sentence hearing for 29-year-old Cardell Hayes, convicted of manslaughter in Smith's death and attempted manslaughter for wounding Racquel on April 9, 2016.

Hayes could get up to 60 years in prison. Formal sentencing is expected later this week.

A tearful Racquel sometimes aimed angry words at Hayes, who sat quietly, watching her testimony. She accused him of lying at his December trial about details of the 2016 confrontation, including his claim that Smith punched him that night.

Coach Sean Payton also testified, talking at length of Smith's passion for his team and family.


1:50 p.m.

A Louisiana judge has denied a new trial for the killer of retired New Orleans Saints star Will Smith.

State District Judge Camille Buras rejected numerous defense arguments for a new trial, including the claim of a newly found witness who said he heard more than two weapons fired the night Smith was killed.

The ruling clears the way for the sentencing of Cardell Hayes later this week. Hayes faces up to 60 years in prison for manslaughter and attempted manslaughter after shooting Smith and wounding Smith's wife, Raquel, during a dispute over traffic.


11:40 a.m.

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. The bushy-haired, bearded witness appeared near tears at times and twice let slip a profanity on the stand as he insisted that he heard two guns fired when Smith was killed.

Burnside was called by the defense Wednesday to support a motion for a new trial for Cardell Hayes, who faces up to 60 years in prison for manslaughter and attempted manslaughter in the shootings of Smith and his wife following a traffic dispute.

Defense attorney John Fuller sharply criticized Napoli's characterization of the new witness. He told the judge: "Just because people are different from you, doesn't make them liars."


11 a.m.

A prosecutor is poking holes in the testimony of a new witness in the killing of retired New Orleans Saints star Will Smith.

Put on the stand to support a defense motion for a new trial for Cardell Hayes, the witness insisted he heard gunfire from two different weapons that night, first "baps" from a smaller weapon, then "booms" from another gun.

But Assistant District Attorney Jason Napoli noted that Michael Burnside said he doesn't own a clock or a calendar, and couldn't be certain of the time and date of the shooting he heard.

Napoli noted that in fact, another shooting had happened in the same area just 45 minutes or so before Smith was killed.

Napoli also noted the lack of evidence of any other guns being fired — no shell casings from a second gun, and no witnesses, other than Hayes, who indicated a second gun was involved.


9:50 a.m.

In sometimes rambling and emotional testimony, a New Orleans man is insisting he heard gunfire from two different weapons when Will Smith was shot to death last year.

Michael Burnside was called by lawyers for Cardell Hayes, convicted of manslaughter last year in Smith's death. 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. His testimony conflicts with trial testimony indicating only one gun was fired.


9:15 a.m.

New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton took a front row seat alongside family and friends of his former player Will Smith, as hearings for Smith's killer were about to get under way.

Twenty-nine-year-old Cardell Hayes faces up to 60 years in prison for manslaughter for shooting Smith to death last year, and attempted manslaughter for the wounding of Smith's wife.

But his sentencing Wednesday could be delayed because his lawyers also were to argue a motion for a new trial. Hayes has maintained that he believed Smith was armed when the two argued over a traffic dispute last year.


8 a.m.

Defense lawyers for the man who killed former New Orleans Saints star Will Smith have filed a motion for a new trial based on "new evidence."

Court records show the motion was filed Tuesday afternoon. The records don't spell out what the evidence is. The motion is expected to be argued Wednesday, the same day Hayes is scheduled to be sentenced. It was unclear whether the motion might lead to a sentencing delay.

The New Orleans district attorney has said Hayes deserves to be imprisoned for 60 years. That would include the maximum 40 years for Hayes' manslaughter conviction, followed by another 20 for attempted manslaughter in the wounding of Smith's wife.

Hayes was convicted in December. Smith died in the traffic dispute in April 2016.

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