Football hero’s killer cannot be retried for murder | Latest News Headlines

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NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The man who killed a former NFL player in a road rage incident in the New Orleans area in 2016 cannot be tried again for murder after his conviction for a lesser charge was overturned, the state Supreme Court ruled Wednesday.

Authorities in the New Orleans suburb of Jefferson Parish originally charged Ronald Gasser with second-degree murder in the murder of Joe McKnight. Gasser pleaded not guilty and claimed self-defense.

The jury found Gasser guilty on the lesser charge of manslaughter. But this verdict was later overturned because it came from a non-unanimous jury. Such verdicts were ruled unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court in an unrelated case.

The Jefferson Parish District Attorney’s Office said the non-unanimous manslaughter decision should not be treated as an acquittal on the second-degree murder charge. Prosecutors wanted another chance to try Gasser for murder.

But the seven-member Supreme Court accepted lower court rulings that retrying Gasser for murder would violate his constitutional protection against double jeopardy.

Writing for the court, Judge Jay McCallum said state and federal double jeopardy protections “prohibit the reinstatement and retrial of a defendant for a higher charge when he has been lawfully convicted guilty of a lesser included offence, even if the conviction is later quashed”.

In Gasser’s case, McCallum added, the conviction on the lesser manslaughter charge was “an implied acquittal” on the second-degree murder charge.

A high school football hero at John Curtis Christian School in Louisiana, McKnight played three seasons for the New York Jets and one with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Police say McKnight’s death followed a rolling 5-mile (8-kilometre) confrontation that began with dangerously aggressive driving on a New Orleans bridge and ended with McKnight being shot while stood in front of Gasser’s car at a suburban intersection.

Witnesses at Gasser’s 2018 trial said McKnight weaved through traffic at high speed before the shooting. But prosecutors argued that Gasser escalated the conflict, following McKnight in an exit he wouldn’t normally have taken.

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