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Judge rules against Gasser in road-rage case

30th May 2017   ·   0 Comments

A Jefferson Parish criminal court judge on Thursday granted a prosecution request to use a 2006 road-rage incident as evidence against the man accused of fatally shooting former John Curtis and NFL star Joe McKnight last December.

Ronald Gasser is accused of shooting McKnight, 28, on Behrman Highway in Terrytown back in December. Investigators say the shooting happened during a road-rage encounter.



Prosecutors will now be allowed to use as evidence a 2006 road-rage case against Gasser.

Prosecutors argued the time difference does not matter and that previous arrests can show that Gasser was potentially the aggressor.

The defense argued that Joe McKnight was the aggressor in the incident and that the prosecution should not be allowed to introduce a 10-year-old incident into evidence.

Gasser’s attorney, Matthew Goetz, also argued that the previous arrest was not similar and that the prosecution was “trying to muddy the water” using previous bad acts.

The case was never adjudicated, so it could not be introduced into evidence, they said.

In that incident, Gasser was accused of punching a driver at the same intersection where he is accused of shooting McKnight.

“Mr. McKnight is the person who chose where this happened, he pulled up to my client on the shoulder, blocks him in traffic, McKnight exits his car, climbs into the window of my client and he shoots him in self-defense. So to say a 10-year-old argument between another person that started between two vehicles with people yelling at each other, has absolutely nothing to do with it, in fact, if you look at the two incidents, my client never exited his vehicle, prior to Mr McKnight attacking him in his vehicle,” Goetz said.

That battery charge was later dismissed.

The Joe McKnight killing made international headlines in part because it was the second time in nine months that a former NFL player was fatally shot in New Orleans during a road-rage incident.

On April 9, 2016, former New Orleans Saints player Will Smith was gunned down in the Garden District by Cardell Hayes while visiting the city to attend the French Quarter Fest. Hayes was sentenced to 25 years earlier this year.

The McKnight case also stirred racial controversy because Ronald Gasser, who is white, was not immediately arrested for the fatal shooting. Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand angrily addressed those who criticized Black ministers who supported his decision not to immediately arrest Gasser, reading hateful emails and posts that used the N-word.

Normand also dared critics on social media to unlawfully protest in Jefferson Parish.

Gasser contends he was standing his ground and defending himself when he shot McKnight, while lawyers for the family of Joe McKnight say that evidence shows Gasser followed McKnight’s car for about six miles before killing him.

Gasser was arrested four days after the shooting and charged initially with manslaughter. After an investigation of the incident, the charge was upgraded to second-degree murder.

Gasser is expected back in court on June 12 for a motions hearing.

This article originally published in the May 29, 2017 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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