Closing arguments are expected Tuesday in the murder trial of 19-year-old William Riley Gaul. Jurors in Knox County, Tennessee will hear both sides make a final pitch as to whether or not the defendant intended to kill his 16-year-old ex-girlfriend Emma Jane Walker.
No one disputes that he ended her life. The defense admits Gaul stood outside her home in November 2016, and opened fire twice at the building. One bullet was embedded in a wall, while the other struck Walker while she was asleep in bed. The dispute is over why this all happened. Prosecutors said he meant to kill her, and should therefore be convicted of first-degree murder. The defense claims that while Gaul’s behavior was bad, he didn’t intend to end her life. He instead wanted to create a situation in which he could come to her “rescue,” should therefore be convicted of the lesser charge of reckless homicide.
Walker’s mother testified that she and her husband told Emma to stop dating Gaul because they didn’t like certain things he had said to her. The victim’s friends also testified about her receiving anonymous text messages, and an incident in which Gaul apparently pretended to get kidnapped.
The prosecution rested their case on Monday. So did the defense, which did not call any witnesses.
Besides first-degree murder, Gaul is charged with felony murder, especially aggravated stalking, tampering with evidence, reckless endangerment, theft (he allegedly stole a gun from his grandfather to use in the shooting), and aggravated child abuse (because Walker was 16).
[Mugshot via Knox County Sheriff’s Office]