The last re­sort?

the story so far O n 1 De­cem­ber 2016, Amer­i­can foot­ball star Joe Mcknight an­gered mo­torist Ronald Gasser with his dan­ger­ous driv­ing. The heated ar­gu­ment turned fa­tal when Mcknight got out of his car – only to be shot by Gasser... Or did this driver fear

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The pair charged along the mo­tor­way

In 2010, Joe Mcknight’s dreams of be­ing a pro­fes­sional Amer­i­can foot­ball player came true when he was signed to the New York Jets.

Over the next few years, Mcknight went on to be­come a star player.

Un­til an Achilles in­jury ended his NFL ca­reer in 2014.

He moved to the Cana­dian Foot­ball League, join­ing the Saskatchewan Roughrid­ers in Septem­ber 2016.

Then, one af­ter­noon three months later, the run­ning back, 28, was charg­ing down a New Or­leans mo­tor­way in his car...

Duck­ing and weav­ing be­tween traf­fic at high speed, Mcknight en­raged other driv­ers with his reck­less­ness, leav­ing a sym­phony of blar­ing horns in his wake.

At the Greater New Or­leans Bridge, Mcknight cut off Ronald Gasser, 54.

An­gered, Gasser ex­changed insults and mid­dle fin­gers with Mcknight as the pair charged ag­gres­sively along the mo­tor­way!

Af­ter a heated five miles, the pair pulled over at an in­ter­sec­tion. Mcknight got out of his car. As he ap­proached the pas­sen­ger window of Gasser’s sedan, the sit­u­a­tion es­ca­lated to a bloody con­clu­sion. Gasser pulled out a 40-cal­i­bre Smith and Wes­son pis­tol and fired three bul­lets at the foot­ball player. Mcknight was hit in his right shoul­der, chest and left hand, and quickly bled to death. Gasser was ar­rested at the scene. He was ques­tioned by de­tec­tives and ad­mit­ted to killing Mcknight. Only, eight hours later, he was re­leased with­out charge. Mcknight’s fam­ily, friends, fans and for­mer team­mates were out­raged.

Af­ter fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tion, Ronald Gasser was charged with mur­der.

If con­victed, Gasser – who’d served six years as a US Marine – faced life in prison. This Jan­u­ary, the trial be­gan. Gasser pleaded not guilty to sec­ond-de­gree mur­der, and a lesser charge of manslaugh­ter.

He claimed that he’d acted in self-de­fence.

De­fence lawyer Matthew Goetz told the jury Gasser was merely try­ing to get home from work that De­cem­ber af­ter­noon.

He hadn’t been look­ing for a con­fronta­tion.

The de­fence main­tained Mcknight’s ar­ro­gance in­sti­gated the in­ci­dent, and his ag­gres­sion es­ca­lated it.

‘He chose to drive like a ma­niac,’ Goetz in­sisted.

Sev­eral wit­nesses tes­ti­fied that Mcknight was driv­ing reck­lessly, at high speed, and posed a risk to other driv­ers. Gasser took the stand. He told the jury he felt his

life was in dan­ger when Mcknight ap­proached his car.

He claimed Mcknight threat­ened to kill him and lunged in through the open pas­sen­ger window.

Gasser said he was not a gun en­thu­si­ast and only had the weapon for his own pro­tec­tion.

In Louisiana, state law al­lows some­one to use lethal force if they feel a threat is en­ter­ing their home or car. ‘Ev­ery life is pre­cious,’ Gasser told the jury. ‘So is mine – and, at that pre­cise mo­ment, I felt that my life was about to be snuffed out.’ Fear­ing for his life, he said he’d fired his weapon as a last re­sort. Yet the pros­e­cu­tion weren’t con­vinced. They agreed Mcknight had been driv­ing dan­ger­ously. But they pointed out many wit­nesses said ei­ther of the men could’ve stopped re­act­ing to each other’s ag­gres­sion. Let the sit­u­a­tion go, long be­fore its deadly end. Yet, they sug­gested, Gasser had seen Mcknight’s be­hav­iour as a chal­lenge and re­sponded equally ag­gres­sively – and had given chase. They also pointed to some dis­crep­an­cies in Gasser’s story. At first, he’d claimed he’d taken the same mo­tor­way exit as Mcknight be­cause that was his way home. Ex­cept this wasn’t true. ‘Mr Gasser thought Mr Mcknight had thrown the gaunt­let down,’ said pros­e­cut­ing lawyer Seth Shute. ‘He fol­lowed him off the exit. This was not his exit.’ Gasser claimed he’d only taken a dif­fer­ent route as he was dis­tracted and shaken by the in­ci­dent. But the pros­e­cu­tion ar­gued Gasser de­lib­er­ately fol­lowed Mcknight to pro­voke him. And post­mortem re­sults showed no gun­pow­der was found on the victim’s body – mean­ing Mcknight couldn’t have been that close to his killer.

It called into ques­tion Gasser’s claim that Mcknight had vi­o­lently lunged at him through the window.

Plus wit­nesses said Mcknight had only placed his left hand on the pas­sen­ger door when Gasser fired.

More damn­ing ev­i­dence was to fol­low…

This wasn’t the first road­rage in­ci­dent in­volv­ing Gasser.

There’d been another one 10 years ear­lier. At the same in­ter­sec­tion. In 2006, Gasser had been ac­cused of re­peat­edly punch­ing another mo­torist who’d ar­gued with him about his er­ratic driv­ing.

Though Gasser was never pros­e­cuted, Seth Shute told ju­rors this in­ci­dent was proof of Gasser’s tem­per.

His will­ing­ness to re­sort to vi­o­lence quickly.

Again, Gasser’s de­fence lawyers claimed both men were throw­ing punches dur­ing the in­ci­dent back in 2006.

That Gasser was only de­fend­ing him­self.

But the pros­e­cu­tion noted sim­i­lar­i­ties in Gasser’s ver­sions of both in­ci­dents, his cries of self-de­fence.

‘It’s al­ways some­one else’s fault,’ the pros­e­cut­ing lawyer said.

And, with that, Ronald Gasser’s fate was in the jury’s hands.

But which ver­sion of events were they go­ing to be­lieve?

Had he opened fire on the ath­lete out of fear for his own life?

Or did he have a short fuse and an itchy trig­ger fin­ger?

ROAD RAGE? Ronald Gasser

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