Joe McKnight killer convicted of manslaughter, faces 40 years in prison

Ronald Gasser has been convicted of manslaughter in the killing of former CFL running back Joe McKnight.

Gasser, 56, now faces up to 40 years in prison.

The verdict was announced in a New Orleans courtroom on Friday night after the jury deliberated for seven-and-a-half hours.

Mcknight, 28, was shot by Gasser on Dec. 1, after as he sat in the driver’s seat of his car and McKnight stood at Gasser’s open passenger side window. The shooting occurred after a road rage incident between the two men.

The jury had four options: find Gasser guilty of second-degree murder; guilty of manslaughter, guilty of negligent homicide, or find him not guilty.

Second-degree murder is killing with the specific intent to kill or inflict great bodily harm and carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison while manslaughter is the killing of a person in “sudden passion or heat of blood immediately caused by provocation sufficient to deprive an average person of his self-control and cool reflection.”

Gasser never left the shooting scene and was initially freed after more than eight hours of questioning, a controversial move that led to racially-charged protests. Arrested on a manslaughter charge four days after the shooting, Gasser was indicted by a grand jury on the second-degree murder charge in February.

McKnight played three seasons for the New York Jets and one with the Kansas City Chiefs. He spent a season in the CFL, playing two games for the Edmonton Eskimos and three for the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

– with files from the AP and the New Orleans Times-Picayune.