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Man who killed former Saints DE Will Smith gets 25 years in prison

FILE - In this Dec. 9, 2012, file photo, New Orleans Saints defensive end Will Smith appears before an NFL football game against the New York Giants in East Rutherford, N.J. Prosecutors will have to present witnesses against the man accused of killing retired New Orleans Saints player Will Smith at a hearing Thursday, April 28, 2016 unless a grand jury indicts him first. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun, File)
(AP Photo/Bill Kostroun, File)

The man who killed former New Orleans Saints defensive end Will Smith was sentenced to 25 years in prison Thursday.

New Orleans Judge Camille Buras also sentenced the defendant, Cardell Hayes, to 15 years for shooting Smith’s wife, Raquel Smith, in the legs during the same incident. That sentence, however, will be served concurrently with the aforementioned manslaughter charges. Hayes will also be granted a year’s worth of credit for time served, given the shooting took place last April.

Prosecutors were calling for a maximum sentence of 60 years with consecutive terms of manslaughter and attempted manslaughter.

Smith was shot and killed by Hayes following a traffic dispute in New Orleans last April. The former Saints star was said to have had a high blood-alcohol level, but prosecutors do not believe he provoked the shooting.

Hayes claimed he was acting in self defense, stating that he only reacted after Smith allegedly fired a gun at him first. Trial evidence did not support Hayes’ claims.

The defense motioned for a retry after presenting a new witness Wednesday, who claimed he heard two weapons go off on the night of the shooting. Judge Buras dismissed the motion.

Smith spent nine years in the NFL, most of which were spent with the New Orleans Saints from 2004-13. The Queens, N.Y., native combined for 459 tackles, 67.5 sacks and 20 forced fumbles.

He was drafted in the first round of the 2004 NFL Draft by the Saints out of Ohio State University. Smith retired from professional football in 2014 after a failed stint with the New England Patriots prior to the 2014-15 season.

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