he man convicted of manslaughter in the 2016 road rage shooting death of former NFL running back Joe McKnight was sentenced to 30 years in prison Thursday.
Ronald Gasser, 56, had faced up to 40 years in prison. Defense lawyers argued that Gasser fired in self-defense when McKnight walked up to his car following a 5-mile confrontation that began on a bridge spanning the Mississippi River in New Orleans and ended with gunfire in neighboring Jefferson Parish.
“Let this be a cautionary tale,” Judge Ellen Kovach said. McKnight’s death could have been avoided “if either of the men had had the good sense, the courage and the wisdom to simply disengage.”
Sentencing followed emotional testimony from McKnight’s loved ones.
“That day, you didn’t have to do that,” McKnight’s mother, Jennifer McKnight, said while looking down at Gasser, who sat a few feet away at the defense table. She cried throughout her testimony and was escorted from the courtroom sobbing.
Witnesses at the trial said McKnight had been weaving in and out of traffic at high speed before the shooting. Prosecutors acknowledged to the jury that he was, in the words of Assistant District Attorney Seth Shute, “driving like a jerk.” But they argued that Gasser escalated the conflict, following him down an exit that he would not ordinarily have taken moments before the shooting.
For more details: espn.com