Cardell Hayes was convicted in 2016 of manslaughter and attempted manslaughter on a 10-2 vote

By Ashley Boucher
January 12, 2021 05:37 PM
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Will Smith
| Credit: Getty

The U.S. Supreme Court has overturned a manslaughter conviction in the murder case of former NFL player Will Smith. 

The nation's highest court vacated the conviction of Cardell Hayes on Monday, basing its decision on last year's Ramos v. Louisiana case that found non-unanimous verdicts to be unconstitutional in criminal cases. 

Hayes was previously found guilty of manslaughter in the death of Will Smith and attempted manslaughter of Raquel Smith, the athlete's wife, following a week-long trial. He was found not guilty of aggravated criminal damage to property.

Hayes had initially faced murder and attempted murder charges, but was convicted on the manslaughter charges. 

Cardell Hayes
| Credit: Orleans Parish Sheriff's Office via AP

Hayes had been convicted in a 10-2 vote. Orleans Parish District Attorney Jason Williams, who was sworn in on Monday, will now decide whether or not to pursue a new case against Hayes. 

"In accordance with the United States Supreme Court ruling in Ramos v. Louisiana, which struck down Louisiana's Jim Crow-era non-unanimous jury law, today the U.S. Supreme Court remanded two cases to lower courts for new trial," Williams said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE.

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"Both of those cases — one well known, and one relatively unknown to the public — will receive thorough review and a decision in the coming weeks on the best way to proceed under the law to deliver justice," Williams said. In addition to Hayes', the Supreme Court on Monday vacated the previous conviction of Reginald Jones, who was also found guilty in a split vote.

Authorities said in a press release previously obtained by PEOPLE that Will and Racquel were shot by Hayes in April 2016 after he rear-ended their vehicle with his Hummer. The two men then "exchanged words" and Hayes "produced a handgun and shot Smith multiple times."

Racquel received one gunshot wound to the leg but survived.