NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - Last January, a jury convicted Ronald Gasser on a manslaughter charge in the Dec. 2016 killing of former NFL player Joe McKnight during a road rage incident. Now, Gasser is seeking a new trial.
In an appeals court hearing Wednesday (June 12), Gasser’s attorney Dane Ciolino said he doesn’t believe the state should have been allowed to use evidence from a previous road rage case involving Gasser during the trial for McKnight’s killing.
“The minute those jurors heard in 2006 there was a similar incident, at the same intersection, I believe it was difficult for them to process the information about this particular shooting,” Ciolino said.
However, the state argued Gasser’s prior arrest was relevant because in that case he claimed self-defense, which is also how he described the incident with McKnight
Ciolino also brought up the “Stand Your Ground” law, saying Gasser was in his vehicle and had a right to use reasonable defensive force to prevent McKnight from entering it.
“Our position is that the evidence here shows the use of force was justifiable, given the unlawful entry made by Mr. McKnight,” Ciolino said.
The state, though, claims Gasser had many options short of deadly force to avoid McKnight’s entry on the passenger side window, where a ladder was lying on the seat, separating the two.
A lot, though, depends on the Supreme Court, Ciolino said.
“The elephant in the room is what’s going to happen with the Gasser case if the U.S. Supreme Court does what everyone expects it to do, which is to find a 10 to 2 jury verdict unconstitutional, and in violation of the 6th Amendment,” Ciolino said.
According to Ciolino, Gasser’s jury verdict, which was 10 to 2, would then become unconstitutional because the jury did not unanimously convict him. This is why, Ciolino said, the Appellant Court Judges will likely grant him a new trial.
“If I had to predict, and I hate to predict in these cases, he’s going to end up getting a new trial,” Ciolino said.