Closing arguments set in road rage killing of ex-NFL player


A Louisiana jury on Friday convicted a man who was accused of fatally shooting former National Football League player Joe McKnight in an act of extreme road rage.

Defense attorneys argued Gasser fired in self-defense at McKnight, who was standing at his open passenger-side window following a five-mile rolling confrontation that began with aggressive driving on a New Orleans bridge.

Defense attorneys said Gasser fired in self-defense when McKnight approached his vehicle after the confrontation.

McKnight was 28 years old.

Gasser would have faced the possibility of a life sentence for a second-degree murder conviction, but instead he faces up to 40 years in prison because of the jury's decision to convict on the lesser offense.

Second-degree murder, which carries a mandatory life sentence, is the killing of a human being when the offender has a specific intent to kill or inflict great bodily harm.

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Authorities have said McKnight and Gasser drove erratically and yelled at each other in a traffic confrontation before the shooting.

But Shute said Gasser escalated the danger, taking McKnight's driving as a challenge.

Shute acknowledged that McKnight had a hand on the open, passenger side window of Gasser's auto before he was shot.

Gasser admitted to shooting McKnight, 28, through his open passenger door window as McKnight stood near Gasser's auto on December 1, 2016.

Prosecutors said after the trial they were happy with the verdict and that McKnight's family was satisfied as well. Gasser's defense team claimed McKnight aggressively pursued Gasser, but witness testimony disputed such a claim. He signed with the University of Southern California, where he ran for 2,213 yards and 13 touchdowns and caught 66 passes for 542 yards and two scores in three seasons.

Prosecutors later recounted a painstaking effort including an extensive search for witnesses and physical evidence that eventually led to Gasser being charged.