Jurors in the trial of a teen football player accused of killing his cheerleader ex-girlfriend heard a series of chilling secret recordings of the defendant in court Thursday afternoon.
William Riley Gaul, 18, is accused of killing Emma Walker, 16, after their rocky relationship ultimately resulted in her ignoring his attempts to get her attention, prosecutors say.
In the recordings, Gaul is heard discussing a police interrogation: “They don’t know anything. If they did, I would be in jail right now,” he told his friends who made the recordings.
Gaul’s friends recorded him after he fired two bullets at Walker’s house from a position outside. One of the bullets became stuck in the wall. The other entered the wall and struck Walker in the head, killing her instantly as she slept. At trial, the defense admitted Gaul was the triggerman, but disputed his intent. Prosecutors said he committed premeditated, intentional murder. The defense said it was another in a bizarre set of events where Gaul would place himself in danger, then seek Walker’s sympathy, or where Gaul would place Walker in danger and then seek to ride in to rescue or comfort her. Gaul already admitted to a reckless conduct charge for firing into the occupied Walker house.
A different story emerged, however, as the friends, who were working with the police, surreptitiously recorded Riley Gaul the night he almost disposed of the gun. Gaul told his friends that if they were confronted by the police, they should say they were drunk, high, or in an otherwise altered state of mind. That way, he presumed, the authorities wouldn’t be able to rely on any comments the friends made.
Gaul also told his friends that the police told him a bullet recovered from the scene had his grandfather’s fingerprint on it. The gun Gaul used was stolen from his grandfather’s car on a day when Gaul had access to it, the state said. Gaul assumed detectives were lying to him because he assumed his grandfather would have been arrested if that fact about the fingerprint was true, he rationalized.
In the videos, Gaul told his friends the police had interrogated him for two and a half hours. He also suggested Walker killed herself.
“Lots of people are saying she shot herself because of me,” he said. One of his friends is heard asking, “She didn’t kill herself?” Gaul responded, “She did! No one knows that but me and [my] parents.”
Gaul also claimed to his friends Walker called him and said someone dressed in black was trying to get into her house.
His friends started referring to the situation as “crazy.” Gaul said, “I can’t believe I’m in trouble for a murder I didn’t commit. I couldn’t even go to her candlelight vigil.” He added, “I couldn’t even bring myself to murder someone.”
Gaul was worried about Walker’s parents not hearing the 3 a.m. gunshot.
“The ambulance wasn’t even there until the next morning . . . say someone shot her in the wall and hit her in the stomach . . . she’s going to wake up from that,” Gaul said.
The bullet had actually penetrated the wall and struck Walker in the head, killing her instantly in her sleep, prosecutors have said.
Gaul further worried about what police would find when they searched his phone. He told his friends that at one point, Walker was texting him that there was a “guy inside” her house and “a stranger trying to get in.” He claimed he was outside, but that she had yelled at him through a window and told him to get away. Gaul said he was just trying to help Walker.
The friends continued recording Gaul as they proceeded together to a location where Gaul wanted to throw the gun into the Tennessee river. The friends had alerted police, who were waiting.
Throughout the videos, Gaul appeared unaware he was being recorded.
[Image via the Law&Crime Network.]