Joe McKnight shooting death case heads to trial in August

The man accused of killing Joe McKnight will face second-degree murder charges in a trial beginning Aug. 7. (AP)

The man accused of fatally shooting former NFL player Joe McKnight during an apparent instance of road rage has his trial date set for Aug. 7., on a charge of second-degree murder.

Ronald Gasser, 55, is accused of shooting McKnight, 28, who was pronounced dead on the scene after the two were involved in a dispute at an intersection where both had been driving in the Terrytown section of New Orleans.

Gasser has pleaded not guilty, and it’s expected that his defense team will claim that he acted in self-defense. McKnight left his car and reportedly was approaching Gasser’s vehicle when the fatal shots were fired as Gasser allegedly shot him from inside his own car. According to a report from the New Orleans Times-Picayune, McKnight was under the influence of anabolic steroids, marijuana and pain pills when the shooting occurred.

The prosecution claims that this is a clear-cut road rage incident, with Gasser having chased McKnight down in his car after McKnight had cut him off. Gasser remained on the scene following the shooting when police arrived.

Gasser previously was involved in a road rage incident in 2006, when he was accused of simple battery in a case that occurred — incredibly — at the same intersection where Gasser is accused of shooting McKnight more than a decade later.

Louisiana is a “stand your ground” state, which means that a person “who is in a place where he or she has a right,” including a public space, “may stand his or her ground and meet force with force.” Additionally, anyone found acting in self-defense under the law cannot be prosecuted for use of deadly force.

If found guilty, Gasser can face a sentence of life in prison at hard labor without the benefit of parole, probation or suspension of sentence, according to Louisiana state law.

McKnight played four seasons in the NFL, three with the New York Jets and one with the Kansas City Chiefs. He rushed for 505 yards and had 241 yards receiving over his career and still holds the Jets team record for longest kick return (107 yards, in 2011).

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Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter!