Man pleads guilty to 2016 manslaughter of former NFL player

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — The man who killed former NFL player Joe McKnight during a 2016 Louisiana road-rage confrontation pleaded guilty to manslaughter this week and was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Ronald Gasser, entered the new plea as part of an agreement ahead of a retrial that was scheduled for January. Judge Ellen Kovach of the 24th Judicial District Court in the New Orleans suburb of Jefferson Parish handed Gasser the prison sentence Tuesday, according to reports from The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate.

Gasser was originally convicted of second-degree murder in 2018. That conviction was overturned two years later by a United States Supreme Court ruling that made the split jury verdicts, such as the 10-2 vote to convict the motorist, unconstitutional. Gasser, 61, was set to be retried Jan. 3, 2023, but instead he reached a plea agreement, according to the report.

McKnight was a high school football hero at Louisiana’s John Curtis Christian School who went on to play three seasons for the New York Jets and one with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Police said McKnight’s death followed a 5-mile (8-kilometer) 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.

Witnesses at Gasser’s 2018 trial said McKnight, 28, had been weaving in and out of traffic at high speed before the shooting. But prosecutors argued that Gasser escalated the conflict, following McKnight down an exit that he would not ordinarily have taken.

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