Self Defense in a Louisiana Second Degree Murder Trial
Self Defense in the Second Degree Murder Trial of Ronald Gasser for the Killing of former NFL/New York Jets player Joe McKnight
Why Ronald Gasser is Guilty of Manslaugher of Joe McKnight, and Not MurderIn a nutshell, the jury reached a compromise verdict and found that Ronald Gasser committed manslaughter, not second degree murder.
2. The Charges
The defendant, Ronald Gasser, was charged by grand jury indictment with committing the second degree murder of Joe McKnight. The jury found that Gasser was guilty of manslaughter.
In Louisiana, second degree murder is defined, in part, under La. R.S. 14:30.1 as the killing of a human being when the offender has a specific intent to kill or to inflict great bodily harm. The jury believed that Gasser was in the heat of passion when he killed McKnight and that he did not commit second degree murder.
The Facts Alleged by the District AttorneyIt was undisputed at trial that Ronald Gasser killed Joe McKnight, the former NFL and New York Jets football player, on December 1, 2016, after a road rage incident that began on the New Orleans Crescent City Connection Bridge and ended in Terrytown as both Gasser and McKnight shouted vulgarities at each other and raced back and forth during the five-mile chase. McKnight was killed when he exited his vehicle in Terrytown, stood at the passenger-side window of Gasser's car, and attempted to get into Gasser's vehicle. Gasser did not leave the driver's seat of his car. The District Attorney contended that Ronald Gasser intentionally killed McKnight by shooting him three times, hitting him in the shoulder, chest, and left hand.
The Facts Alleged by the Defense
Gasser's attorneys argued self-defense, claiming that Joe McKnight was the aggressor and that Gasser feared for his life when he shot and killed McKnight. They also contend that McKnight was under the influence of several drugs at the time of the encounter.
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