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Daughter of NFL star Will Smith confronts her father’s road rage killer as he’s jailed for 25 years: ‘You ruined my life’

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Daughter of NFL star Will Smith confronts her father’s road rage killer as he’s jailed for 25 years: ‘You ruined my life’

The man who fatally shot retired NFL player Will Smith following a car crash has been sentenced to 25 years in prison. Smith's daughter was in the courtroom for his sentencing and told him that he "ruined my life".

Cardell Hayes, 36, was sentenced on Thursday in a New Orleans courtroom for his role in Smith's 2016 shooting death, making it the second time he has faced sentencing for the killing.

Smith, 34, was shot eight times, seven times in his back, during a confrontation with Hayes. Hayes rear-ended the former player, which set off the confrontation.

Hayes contends that he fired in self defence, fearing that Smith — who was drunk at the time, according to a toxicology report — was trying to grab a gun out of his SUV. There were no witnesses to back up Hayes' claims, and forensic reports did not find that Smith had grabbed or fired a gun.

Hayes was originally convicted of manslaughter in 2016 and sentenced to 25 years in prison, but the conviction was tossed out after the US Supreme Court outlawed non-unanimous verdicts. The jury in his first case voted 10-2 that he was guilty.

Former New Orleans Saints defensive end Will Smith was killed in 2016 in a road rage incident

In January he was convicted again, this time unanimously, and he has been in a New Orleans jail awaiting his sentencing ever since.

Smith's teenage daughter, Lisa, gave a victim impact statement before Hayes was sentenced.

“Mr Hayes, you ruined my life,” she said. “You took my father away from me.”

She said that her mother had to relearn to walk after the shooting, and she said he had robbed her of having her father around for major life events. Racquel Smith, Smith’s wife, was wounded in the shooting.

Racquel Smith was wounded in the incident although Hayes was cleared of a charge of attempted manslaughter against her (AP)© Provided by The Independent

The original 2016 verdict included an attempted manslaughter charge connected to Ms Smith’s shooting. Hayes was acquitted of that charge during the second trial in January.

Lisa told the court that her mother had had to learn to walk again following the incident. Hayes was also acquitted of a charge relating to claims he deliberately rammed the Smiths’ SUV.

Hayes' mother, Dawn Mumphrey, spoke on his behalf, begging the judge for "mercy" and saying that her and her family's lives have been "forever changed as well".

Prosecutors had sought a 25-year sentence, saying that while Hayes had expressed regret for what happened, he had never taken responsibility for it.

Smith, a father of three, played on the Saints team that lifted spirits in New Orleans after the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. He helped take the team to a winning season in 2006 and a Super Bowl victory in 2010.

Hayes, who owned a tow truck business, is the father of a teenager and a 2-year-old child.

Story by Graig Graziosi: The Independent: 

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