GRETNA, La. (WWL-TV)- Ronald Gasser will spend the next 30 years in prison for the death of former John Curtis Christian School and NFL standout Joe McKnight.
Judge Ellen Shirer Kovach of the 24th Judicial District handed down the sentence Thursday morning.Gasser was convicted by a jury in late January.
“To you it might have seemed like an insignificant life to take, but it wasn’t,” said Jennifer McKnight, Joe McKnight’s mother, while giving her victim impact statement.
“Ronald Gasser hear me when I say, it will be my life’s mission to make sure my son Jayden doesn’t grow up with hate for you,” added Michelle Quick, the mother of McKnight’s son. “Not because you don’t deserve it, but because he should not have hate in his heart.”
Gasser, 56, was convicted of a lesser charge of manslaughter on Jan. 26.
He had been charged with second-degree murder, which carries a life sentence. The jury returned handed up a manslaughter conviction, which carries a sentence of anywhere from zero to 40 years.
Despite not giving out the maximum sentence, Judge Kovach said she wanted to send a message to the public. “Let this be a cautionary tale for all drivers who rage against their wheels.”
Never up for debate was if Gasser killed McKnight on Dec. 1, 2016, following a 5-mile long, road race-induced chase that began on the Crescent City Connection and ended at Behrman Highway and Holmes Boulevard in Terrytown.
At issue during the trial was if Gasser was justified for shooting McKnight.
Jennifer McKnight made her feelings known on that issue as she left the courtroom. Addressing Gasser, she said. “You took my son from me. “That day, you didn’t have to do that. That didn’t have to happen. It hurts. It’s going to hurt a long time.”
Gasser’s attorneys argued that McKnight “lunged” into their client’s Infiniti; prosecutors argued that while McKnight was angry and admitted he also drove aggressively that day, he never tried to get into Gasser’s car. Physical evidence, they argued, disproved the claim that McKnight was trying to get into the car.