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The jurors have been selected, and the murder trial William Riley Gaul is set to begin. Prosecutors claim he killed his 16-year-old ex-girlfriend Emma Jane Walker. Opening statements are expected Tuesday morning.
Out of 86 possible jurors who stepped into court on Monday, eight men and four women will hear both sides fight over the evidence at hand in a Knox County courtroom. Two alternate jurors, both men, were also selected.
Prosecutors are expected to say that Gaul, on Nov. 21, 2016, stood in the backyard of Walker’s home, opened fire through her bedroom wall, and fatally shot her as she slept in her bed. Family members said she had broken up with him a few weeks before. The couple started dating in high school and Gaul graduated that same year, leaving for Maryville College where he played football.
When the sheriff’s office announced Gaul’s arrest, they claimed he was trying to destroy evidence. On Monday, the defense objected to the prosecution using text messages between Gaul and Walker.
According to authorities, Gaul’s friend actually turned him in. Gaul allegedly approached him for help in disposing of a gun. This friend instead told investigators about the request.
All told, Gaul faces a seven charges: first-degree murder, felony murder, especially aggravated stalking, tampering with evidence, reckless endangerment, theft (he allegedly stole a gun from his grandfather), and aggravated child abuse (because Walker was 16).
Cathy Russon contributed to this article.
[Mugshot via Knox County Sheriff’s Office]