Joe McKnight’s shooter pleads not guilty

GRETNA, La - (WGNO) Ronald Gasser, the man who shot and killed former NFL player Joe McKnight during a road rage incident in Terrytown last December, plead not guilty to second degree murder charges on Monday.

Four days earlier, the Jefferson Parish District Attorney's Office announced Gasser was indited on a second-degree murder charge, upping the manslaughter charge Gasser faced when he was eventually arrested four days after the shooting.

Gasser, 55, appeared before magistrate commissioner Paul Schneider in the 24th Judicial District Court in Gretna. Gasser stood in court with his attorneys, Gerard Archer and Matthew Goetz, who called Gasser's actions "justifiable homicide" after the proceeding ended in court.

Authorities said McKnight, the former New York Jets player who was driving an Audi SUV, possibly cut off Gasser's Infiniti near the Crescent City Connection. Gasser chased McKnight down, leading to the deadly confrontation in Terrytown.

Gasser's bond is still set at $750,000, which Archer and Goetz said their client could not afford. He faced a $500,000 bond while facing the lesser charge of manslaughter.

Sheriff Newell Normand defended the delayed arrest by saying it helped authorities acquire 12 hours of statements from Gasser.  Norman added that the office of District Attorney Paul Connick Jr.  reviewed more than 160 interviews conducted by the sheriff's office.
The attorneys have stressed that Gasser "feared for his life" and acted in self-defense in shooting McKnight.

Also in court today were Gasser's wife and daughter, and members of the McKnight family.

If convicted, he faces a life sentence without parole, probation or suspended sentence. A pretrial date was set for Feb. 16 in Judge Ellen Kovach's court.