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Sports Court drops split-jury verdict in killing of NFL's McKnight

16:35  16 july  2020
16:35  16 july  2020 Source:   msn.com

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U. S . Supreme Court abolishes split jury verdicts in Louisiana case; dozens of convictions voided. Gasser' s attorneys argued that he had acted in self-defense after McKnight lunged into his vehicle The U. S . Supreme Court ' s decision in April to abolish split - jury verdicts was retroactive to all

Appellate judges overseeing 40 criminal cases across Louisiana, including that of the man who shot former NFL player Joe McKnight , got marching orders on Wednesday to reconsider them in light of a recent U. S . Supreme Court decision abolishing split jury verdicts .

a man wearing a blue shirt © Provided by The Canadian Press

GRETNA, La. — An appeals court has granted the killer of NFL player Joe McKnight a new trial because his manslaughter conviction was delivered by a split jury.

Ronald Gasser's 30-year sentence and manslaughter conviction were vacated Wednesday by the Louisiana 5th Circuit Court of Appeal, news outlets reported.

The panel's decision comes after the U.S. Supreme Court outlawed split-jury verdicts in April. The ruling was retroactive for all cases with convictions currently under appeal.

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But the appeals court judges said they don’t believe that McKnight ’ s hands on an open window constituted an illegal entry. Ciolino also raised the argument that Gasser’ s 10-2 conviction is unconstitutional and illegal, considering the newly enacted state law requiring unanimous jury verdicts .

The court appears prepared to rule that the Constitution require juries to reach unanimous verdicts in both state and federal court , abolishing a legal Allowing split verdicts tips the scales toward conviction, freeing a jury from the duty to find consensus. It deprives defendants of the right to have a

Gasser was convicted of manslaughter by a 10-2 vote in 2018. He had been tried for second-degree murder, but most of the jurors settled on the lesser charge.

Gasser fatally shot McKnight on Dec. 1, 2016 after a 5-mile (8-kilometre) chase over a bridge led to an altercation.

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 prior to the shooting.

Gasser said he was defending himself because McKnight lunged into his car. The prosecutor said physical evidence proved Gasser lied.

Gasser's attorney, Dane Ciolino, praised the decision. Ciolino said Gasser would remain in custody until a bond hearing could be scheduled.

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, the running back played three seasons for the New York Jets and one with the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Associated Press

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