Cardell Hayes, the man who shot and killed former NFL player Will Smith after a road-rage incident in early 2016, received a 25 year sentence for manslaughter from a Louisiana judge on Thursday. However, in the judgment of Smith’s widow, Racquel Smith, the punishment doesn’t go far enough.
Racquel Smith wrote a lengthy statement in response to the punishment handed down by Judge Camille Buras, claiming that her punishment of Hayes did not match the severity of his crimes.
Smith said in her statement:
My family and I are extremely disappointed with today’s sentencing and the leniency showed by Judge Buras for the defendant. While we know nothing will ever bring Will back, we were hopeful that Judge Buras would have issued a stronger sentence to more justly reflect both the nature of the crimes and the tremendous loss and pain that my family has suffered as a result of Mr. Hayes’ violent actions on the night of April 9, 2016.
This ordeal has been a nightmare for me and my family. There are no winners here today. Today’s sentencing does not bring back Will and leaves another child [Hayes’ son] to grow up without a father. I pray for the other families of New Orleans that are dealing with the same tragedy that comes with the loss of life at the hands of senseless violence. Will loved this city and we must do better together to enact serious change so that Will’s unnecessary murder is not in vain.
…I will continue to shine my light for my Superman. Each day, we continue to heal and work through our pain and feelings of enormous loss. Will’s dedication to his family, his love for his community and his desire to live life to the fullest will continue to inspire me, Willie, Lisa, Wynter and everyone else who loved him. We are hopeful that we can finally focus on what brings us joy — remembering Will for the man he was and the life he lived. We will carry our memories of Will with us every day for the rest of our lives.
While Judge Buras’ ruling did technically fall within the 20-60 year punishment window allowed for manslaughter and attempted manslaughter, the 25-year sentence certainly comes in a lot closer to 20, than it does 60.
Racquel Smith also became a victim in the confrontation that took her husband’s life. Hayes shot and wounded her after shooting and killing Will Smith.
Follow Dylan Gwinn on Twitter: @themightygwinn