Trial set to begin in McKnight's killing

FILE - In this Dec. 12, 2016 file photo, a woman comforts an unidentified mourner as he cries into a scarf with University of Southern California colors before funeral services for former NFL football player Joe McKnight at the New Home Family Worship Center in New Orleans. The trial in a road-rage shooting that left McKnight dead was set to begin with jury selection Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018, in a New Orleans suburb. McKnight was shot to death by Ronald Gasser in the December 16 shooting. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)

GRETNA, La. (AP) The trial in a road-rage shooting that left former NFL football player Joe McKnight dead was set to begin with jury selection Tuesday in a New Orleans suburb.

Ronald Gasser, 55, is charged with second-degree murder in the Dec. 1, 2016, shooting of the local high school football star.

McKnight, 28, was a running back, considered a top recruit when he came out of John Curtis Christian School. He played college ball at Southern California before three seasons with the New York Jets and one with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Police said the confrontation took place as the men were traveling over a Mississippi River bridge in New Orleans and on roads in neighboring Jefferson Parish.

Jury selection was set to begin in the courtroom of state District Judge Ellen Kovach. Gasser’s attorneys have cast McKnight as the aggressor and are expected to argue Gasser shot in self-defense.

If convicted as charged, Gasser would face a mandatory sentence of life in prison.

Authorities said the shooting happened after both cars had stopped and McKnight approached Gasser’s vehicle. Gasser shot McKnight three times.

Defense attorneys said last year that they believe McKnight tried to enter Gasser’s car through the passenger window. They noted that Gasser stayed on the scene after the shooting and said he cooperated with police.

The case bore striking similarities to an earlier 2016 shooting death involving another former NFL player. Will Smith, who retired after starring on New Orleans Saints teams that inspired the city after Hurricane Katrina with winning seasons and a 2010 Super Bowl victory, was shot to death during a confrontation following a traffic crash. A 29-year-old New Orleans man, Cardell Hayes, was sentenced to 25 years in prison after a jury convicted him of manslaughter.

WNCT-TV 9 On Your Side provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s