Driver convicted in killing Joe McKnight sentenced to 30 years

The 56-year-old driver convicted in a road rage incident that killed former ex-Jet Joe McKnight was sentenced to 30 years behind bars.

A Jefferson Parish jury convicted Ronald Gasser in December on a manslaughter charge for fatally shooting the former running back after a five-mile road race in December 2016.

He was initially charged with second-degree murder, which carries a life sentence.

Judge Ellen Shrier Kovach dubbed the killing senseless, noting both men could have de-escalated the situation had they chosen to do so, according to the New Orleans Advocate.

“This tragedy did not need to happen,” she said.

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Former NFL player Joe McKnight
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Former NFL player Joe McKnight

Running Back Joe McKnight #25 of the New York Jets follows the action against the Miami Dolphins when the Miami Dolphins host the New York Jets at Sun Life Stadium on September 23, 2012 in Miami Gardens, Florida.Jets beat the Dolphins, 23-20, in Overtime.

(Photo by Al Pereira/New York Jets/Getty Images)

Kansas City Chiefs running back Joe McKnight (22) scores a touchdown against the Miami Dolphins in the game at Sun Life Stadium. The Chiefs defeated the Dolphins 34-15.

(Brad Barr/USA TODAY Sports)

Runningback Joe McKnight #4 of the USC Trojans carries the ball against the UCLA Bruins during the college football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on December 1, 2007 in Los Angeles, California. The Trojans defeated the Bruins 24-7.

(Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

New York Jets Tim Tebow hands the ball off to Joe McKnight in the first quarter during their NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills in East Rutherford, New Jersey, September 9, 2012.

(REUTERS/Gary Hershorn)

USC's Joe McKnight (4), celebrates his second quarter touchdown with teammate Damian Williams against Notre Dame in Los Angeles November 29, 2008.

(REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson)

Joe McKnight #25 of the New York Jets sits dejected after being defeated 24 to 19 by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2011 AFC Championship game at Heinz Field on January 23, 2011 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Head Coach Pete Carroll of the USC Trojans congratulates his player Joe McKnight #4 after McKnight scored a touchdown in the third quarter during the Rose Bowl presented by Citi against the Illinois Fighting Illini at the Rose Bowl on January 1, 2008 in Pasadena, California.

(Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

New York Jets running back Joe McKnight (25) leaves the field after an injury during the second half of their NFL football game against the Washington Redskins in Landover, Maryland, December 4, 2011.

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

University of Southern California tailback Joe McKnight (4) scores a two-point conversion as David Ausberry (9) watches as McKnight is hit by Ohio State University defender Devon Torrence (R) during the fourth quarter of their NCAA football game in Columbus, Ohio, September 12, 2009.

(REUTERS/Matt Sullivan)

The USC Trojans' Joe McKnight (2nd L) runs between Penn State Nittany Lions' Lydell Sargeant (L), Anthony Scirrotto (2nd R) and Navorro Bowman (R) during the second quarter at the 95th Rose Bowl Game in Pasadena, California, January 1, 2009.

(REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson)

University of Southern California running back Joe McKnight scores a touchdown on a long run against Notre Dame in the fourth quarter of their NCAA football game in South Bend, Indiana, October 20, 2007.

(REUTERS/Frank Polich)

Joe McKnight #25 of the New York Jets looks on against the San Diego Chargers at MetLife Stadium on December 23, 2012 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Chragers defeated the Jets 27-17.

(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

USC's Joe McKnight walks off the field as fans celebrate the Oregon Ducks win in Eugene, Oregon Saturday.

(Photo by Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Running Back Joe McKnight #25 of the New York Jets watches the action against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium on October 3, 2010 in Orchard Park, New York. Jets beat the bills, 38-14.

(Photo by Al Pereira/Getty Images)

Joe McKnight of USC reacts to returning a punt for 45 yards against the Arizona Wildcats at Memorial Coliseum.

(Photo by Charles Baus /Icon SMI/Icon Sport Media via Getty Images)

Joe McKnight #25 of the New York Jets returns a kick during an NFL game against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium on December 30, 2012 in Orchard Park, New York.

(Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

Running back Joe McKnight #22 of the Kansas City Chiefs celebrates with Junior Hemmingway #88 after scoring a third-quarter touchdown against the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium on September 21, 2014 in Miami Gardens, Florida.

(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

New York Jets running back Joe McKnight avoids a tackle from the Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Brandon Boykin (22) during the second quarter of their NFL preseason football game in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, August 30, 2012.

(REUTERS/Tim Shaffer)

Joe McKnight #25 of the New York Jets and Jeremy Kerley #11 walk to the field before the start of the Jets game against the Washington Redskins at FedExField on December 4, 2011 in Landover, Maryland.

(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

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Defense lawyers argued he fired in self-defense when McKnight approached his car following the chase, which spanned the Mississippi River in New Orleans and later ended with gun violence in nearby Jefferson Parish.

Witnesses at the trial said McKnight was weaving in and out of traffic ahead of the shooting. Assistant District Attorney Seth Shute conceded he’d been “driving like a jerk,” but contended Gasser escalated the situation when he followed McKnight off the highway.

“We’re not saying Mr. McKnight was perfect, but what happened on that bridge was a challenge,” he said. “He, meaning Gasser, wasn’t going to let Mr. McKnight get away with it.”

Shute also acknowledged McKnight had placed his hand on the open, passenger side window of Gasser’s car but noted physical evidence proved the shooter lied to police when he said the athlete lunged at him.

McKnight’s mother, Jennifer McKnight, and the mother of his son, Michelle Quick, both delivered emotional victim impact statements ahead of the sentencing, WWLTV reported.

“To you it might have seemed like an insignificant life to take, but it wasn’t,” the grieving mother told Gasser.

Quick added that it is no her “life’s mission to make sure my son, Jayden doesn’t grow up with hate for you.

“Not because you deserve it, but because he should not have hate in his heart.”

With News Wire Services

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