30 years for manslaughter?

Ron Gasser (white) shot unarmed Joe McKnight (black football player), got manslaughter conviction instead of 2nd degree murder, sentenced to 30 years.

I have two comments.

  1. Now there is someone whose face was really working against him in a charge having to do with road rage.

  2. The jury downgraded the charge from 2nd degree murder to manslaughter, which strikes me as incorrect based on my (limited) understanding of those charges. It sounds like the murder was intentional but unplanned. However, once the verdict was given, the judge gave a sentence more appropriate for the higher charge, which to me is wrong in that it seems like it is trying to contravene the jury’s judgment.

Seriously, I’m not a lawyer, so take #2 for what it’s worth (it may be worth #2).

Reading up on manslaughter, it seems like voluntary manslaughter might be a valid verdict possibly based on provocation (McKnight was arguing with him at the time about the traffic incident) or possibly on imperfect self-defense (Gasser may have believed that he was within his rights but McKnight was not close enough to him be a threat at that moment, since he was unarmed).

Also looking up (draconian) Louisiana law, the sentence for second degree murder is life imprisonment, and the sentence for manslaughter is up to 40 years. So I guess the judge’s sentence was well within the legal boundaries.

I wonder if the difference in sentencing would have affected the jury’s decision.

Good for the Judge. I really hate that road rage shit.

I remember watching Joe play for SC. Didn’t know about this.

So how much of that can Gasser reasonably expect to serve? Even if he only does half, he’ll be 71 when he gets out. Would/will he get social security and medicaid benefits?

If he’s released at 71 why wouldn’t he get social security?

He’d be eligible for Medicare, not Medicaid. Unless he’s really, really poor (which he might be, being a 71 year old felon unlikely to find work or have resources) in which case he might qualify for both, if his state of residence allows men without dependent children in their household to qualify for Medicaid. As he was convicted for manslaughter and not drugs he’d probably be eligible for food stamps, too.

What is your point here?

It sounds like second-degree murder was not an appropriate charge.

“In Louisiana, there are three main categories of homicide, first-degree murder, second-degree murder, and manslaughter. What most people normally think of as a premeditated murder would be classified in Louisiana as second-degree murder. Second-degree murder is the killing of a human being when the offender has the specific intent to kill or inflict great bodily harm. So, when most people think of a murder, they are thinking of second-degree murder.”


As noted, 30 years is within the sentencing guidelines for manslaughter in Louisiana. It’s just not a good state in which to kill people.

The Louisiana statute on manslaughter seems to apply to: “A homicide which would be murder under either Article 30 (first degree murder) or Article 30.1 (second degree murder), but the offense is committed in sudden passion or heat of blood immediately caused by provocation sufficient to deprive an average person of his self-control and cool reflection.” Cite.

I don’t know anything about the case, but the article in the OP states:

That seems like a plausible verdict to me.

Louisiana doesn’t mess around. It has one of the highest percentages (maybe the highest) of its residents in prison, and I think it’s the only state which, in the modern era, has sentenced people to death for crimes that didn’t kill anybody (that law was struck down).

With the prison population in LA likely to be largely African American, I have my doubts that this dude will live to serve his entire sentence, reduced or not, unless he’s constantly segregated from the general population.

Is being curious not allowed?

Sure, it’s allowed, but I’m a little puzzled that the question needed to be asked. Why wouldn’t he be eligible for government benefits?

That’s what I’m asking.

Judges have quite a bit of latitude. They can even set aside a jury’s verdict if they feel that the law was not adhered to. This is rare, but can be done.