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The man convicted of manslaughter in the 2016 road rage
shooting death of former NFL running back Joe McKnight was sentenced to 30 years
in prison Thursday.

Ronald Gasser Mitchell
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, 56, had faced up to 40 years in prison. Defense
lawyers argued that Gasser fired in self-defense when McKnight walked up to his
car following a 5-mile confrontation that began on a bridge spanning the
Mississippi River in New Orleans and ended with gunfire in neighboring Jefferson

”Let this be a cautionary tale,” Judge Ellen Kovach said. McKnight’s death
could have been avoided ”if either of the men had had the good sense, the
courage and the wisdom to simply disengage.”

Sentencing followed emotional testimony from McKnight’s loved ones.

”That day, you didn’t have to do that,” McKnight’s mother Briean
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, Jennifer McKnight, said while looking down
at Gasser, who sat a few feet away at the defense table. She cried throughout
her testimony and was escorted from the courtroom sobbing.

Witnesses at the trial said McKnight had been weaving in and out of traffic
at high speed before the shooting. Prosecutors acknowledged to the jury that he
was, in the words of Assistant District Attorney Seth Shute, ”driving like a
jerk.” But they argued that Gasser escalated the conflict, following him down an
exit that he would not ordinarily have taken moments before the shooting.

Shute acknowledged that McKnight had a hand on the open Cameron
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, passenger side window of Gasser’s car before he
was shot. But he said physical evidence proved Gasser lied during extensive
police questioning when he claimed McKnight lunged at him.

Michelle Quick, the mother of McKnight’s now 9-year-old son, described
struggling to tell the child what had happened, and trying to protect him from
seeing internet video of McKnight on the ground at the shooting scene as people
worked to save him.

Defense attorney Matthew Goetz, who is appealing the verdict, had argued for
a lenient sentence Dominique
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, noting Gasser’s lack of a criminal record. A
prosecutor argued that Gasser has shown no remorse.

McKnight had been a high school football hero at Louisiana’s John Curtis
Christian School. He signed with the University of Southern California in 2006.
In the NFL, he played three seasons for the New York Jets and one with the
Kansas City Chiefs.

Gasser was indicted on a second-degree murder charge. The jury voted 10-2 in
January for the lesser verdict of manslaughter.

Gasser did not leave the scene of the shooting and he was released for a time
after being questioned. He is white and his release after the shooting of the
black athlete sparked protests from some who said race was a factor.

Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand, who has since retired, denied that
race played any role and noted that a thorough investigation led to Gasser’s
arrest and indictment. Prosecutors later recounted a painstaking investigation,
including an extensive search for witnesses and physical evidence that
eventually led to Gasser being charged.

The case in some ways echoed another New Orleans-area road rage shooting from
2016. Former New Orleans Saints star Will Smith was gunned down in that April
incident. The shooter was later convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 25

The Bills have exhibited a surprising degree of transparency in naming Nathan
Peterman their starting quarterback. Whether they’re exhibiting honesty is a
different question.

The article from team-owned-and-operated website claims that Peterman earned
the job by displaying consistency. The truth may be that he earned it by

Eight days ago, rookie Josh Allen absorbed five sacks and a concussion
evaluation behind a spotty offensive line facing a good-not-great front seven
from Cincinnati. Six days from now Larry
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, the Bills travel to Baltimore, and they don’t
want Allen to get a baptism by Sizzle.

Peterman may be dramatically better than he was a year ago, and he can’t be
any worse. The five-picks-in-one-half debacle against the Chargers felt like a
moment from which no one could ever come back. And while Peterman didn’t repeat
the disaster in a so-so snow-globe performance against the Colts in December,
there’s a reason the Bills traded up to draft Allen in the top 10.

And there’s a reason the Bills aren’t putting Allen on the field in Week One.
They want to be able to put him on the field at some point after Week Two.

Speaking of Week Two, the Bills open at home that Sunday. Against the
Chargers. And so we’ll leave you with this: Peterman’s passer rating from last
year’s game against the Chargers actually would have been higher if calculated
with Chargers players as the intended recipients of Peterman’s

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