Cardell Hayes found guilty of manslaughter in shooting death of ex-NFL star Will Smith

Dec 11 (Reuters) - A jury on Sunday night found a Louisiana man guilty of manslaughter in the shooting death of retired NFL player Will Smith, following an April vehicle collision in New Orleans.

Cardell Hayes, 29, was charged with the second-degree murder of Smith, a former defensive lineman for the New Orleans Saints and a prominent member of the team during their 2010 Super Bowl victory.

Smith, who was 34 and had retired from the National Football League in 2014, was shot eight times on April 9. His body was found slumped over the steering wheel of his Mercedes SUV. His wife Racquel was also shot multiple times but survived.

Hayes, a tow truck driver, pleaded not guilty to charges that included attempted second-degree murder and aggravated criminal damage to property. He was also convicted of attempted manslaughter for shooting Smith's wife.

RELATED: Former New Orleans Saints player Will Smith throughout his career

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Former New Orleans Saints player Will Smith throughout his career
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Former New Orleans Saints player Will Smith throughout his career
METAIRE, LA - CIRCA 2011: In this handout image provided by the NFL, Will Smith of the New Orleans Saints poses for his NFL headshot circa 2011 in Metairie, Louisiana. (Photo by NFL via Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - AUGUST 16: Will Smith #91 of the New Orleans Saints anticipates a play during a preseason game against the Oakland Raiders at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on August 16, 2013 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Saints won 28-20. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - AUGUST 25: Ben Tate #44 of the Houston Texans rushes past Will Smith #91 of the New Orleans Saints at Reliant Stadium on August 25, 2013 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - AUGUST 16: Matt Flynn #15 of the Oakland Raiders is sacked by Will Smith #91 of the New Orleans Saints during a preseason game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on August 16, 2013 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
METAIRIE, LA - MAY 23: Will Smith #91 of the New Orleans Saints participates in drills during organized team activities, OTA's, at the Saints training facility on May 23, 2013 in Metairie, Louisiana. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - SEPTEMBER 09: Will Smith #91 of the New Orleans Saints walks off the field after a play against the Washington Redskins at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on September 9, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - AUGUST 17: Will Smith #91 of the New Orleans Saints during the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on August 17, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - AUGUST 25: Will Smith #91 of the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on August 25, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
METAIRIE, LA - MAY 24: Will Smith #91 of the New Orleans Saints stretches during OTA's at the Saints Training Facility on May 24, 2012 in Metairie, Louisiana. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - DECEMBER 26: Will Smith #91 of the New Orleans Saints walks to the sidelines during a game against the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on December 26, 2011 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Saints defeated the Falcons 45-16. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - OCTOBER 23: Will Smith #91 of the New Orleans Saints stands on the sideline during a game against the Indianapolis Colts being held at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on October 23, 2011 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Saints defeated the Colts 62-7. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WA - JANUARY 08: Will Smith #91 and Jonathan Vilma #51 of the New Orleans Saints take the field against the Seattle Seahawks during the 2011 NFC wild-card playoff game at Qwest Field on January 8, 2011 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JULY 26: Will Smith talks with members of the media after the New England Patriots Training Camp. (Photo by Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
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Jury selection began on Monday in Orleans Parish Criminal District Court. Hayes testified on Saturday, and jurors began deliberations on Sunday evening.

Authorities said Smith was returning from a dinner in the city's Lower Garden District with his wife shortly before 11:30 p.m. on the night of the incident.

Surveillance footage from the scene appeared to show Smith's Mercedes SUV bump the rear of Hayes' Hummer before speeding off. Moments later, according to authorities, Hayes' Hummer hit the rear of Smith's vehicle, causing it to crash into a third car.

After a heated exchange, police said, Hayes shot Smith eight times, including seven times in the back.

In the following days, authorities said they recovered a handgun from inside Smith's SUV that had not been fired. Toxicology reports showed Smith was legally drunk at the time of the incident.

Hayes is set to be sentenced early next year. (Reporting by Chris Michaud; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

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