The man who killed CFL and NFL running back Joe McKnight in a December 2016 road-rage confrontation was found guilty of manslaughter Friday by a jury in suburban New Orleans.
Jurors began deliberations Friday afternoon in the case of Ronald Gasser, 56. Manslaughter carries a maximum sentence of 40 years.
Defence attorneys had claimed Gasser feared for his life when he fired from his driver’s seat at McKnight, who was standing at his open passenger-side window.
Police said the death had followed a 5-mile (8-kilometre) rolling confrontation that began with dangerously aggressive driving on a New Orleans bridge and ended with McKnight being shot as he stood outside Gasser’s car at a suburban intersection.
Prosecutors didn’t deny that McKnight drove dangerously before he was killed. “We do not dispute that he was driving like a jerk,” Assistant District Attorney Seth Shute told jurors in closing arguments, alluding to witness testimony that McKnight weaved in and out of traffic, cutting Gasser and others off, at high speed.
But Shute said Gasser escalated the danger, taking McKnight’s driving as a challenge. “Mr. Gasser thought that Mr. McKnight had thrown the gauntlet down,” Shute told jurors, later adding, “He followed him off the exit. That was not his exit.”
– With files from the Canadian Press