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Did William Riley Gaul, 19, mean to kill his 16-year-old ex-girlfriend Emma Jane Walker? Or did he only intend to stage a situation in which he could come to her “rescue”? Even the defense admits he is the reason she died. What remains in dispute is the motivation behind his actions. Jurors in Knox County, Tennessee, will make that decision, but first, they’ll have to sit through testimony from friends and family of the defendant and his victim.
Both sides agree that one night in November 2016, Gaul stood outside Walker’s home, and fired twice at the building. One bullet fatally struck Walker while she was in bed. Prosecutors call it first-degree murder, and are presenting evidence Gaul stalked his ex after refusing to get over a break-up. The defense said there was no motivation to kill, and there was no stalking. Their client’s behavior was problematic, but he only meant to get his ex’s attention, not end her life. Defense lawyer Wesley Stone said in opening statements that Gaul should be convicted of a lesser charge of reckless homicide.
Jurors saw video on Thursday of video secretly recorded by the defendant’s friends sometime after he fired bullets at Walker’s house. Gaul discussed an interview he had with police. He also said Walker killed herself. As seen on footage, he told his friends that if they were approached about the investigation, they should claim to be drunk or high. The recording also showed them approaching where Gaul attempted to discard the gun, which he stole from his grandfather.
Gaul faces charges of first-degree murder, felony murder, especially aggravated stalking, tampering with evidence, reckless endangerment, theft, and aggravated child abuse because Walker was 16.
[Screengrab via Law&Crime Network]