Man convicted of murdering Emma Walker seeks new trial

Crime and Courts

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Riley Gaul, the college football player convicted of murdering Central High School cheerleader Emma Walker in 2016, has filed a motion for a new trial.

William Riley Gaul_250091

According to court documents, Gaul is seeking an acquittal based on insufficient evidence. If the acquittal is not granted, he’s asked for a new trial.

A motion hearing has been set for June 4 in Knox County Criminal Court.

Gaul, 18 at the time, was sentenced to 51 years in prison for the first-degree murder of Walker, a 16-year-old cheerleader with whom he had a relationship. The former Maryville College wide receiver was also convicted of stalking, reckless endangerment, theft, tampering with evidence, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony.

In the motion, Gaul asks for an acquittal, or in the alternative, a new trial. Among the reasons, the motion lists insufficient evidence to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

In addition, Gaul’s motion filed by Defense Attorney Wesley D. Stone also states:

  • that the court erred in denying Gaul’s objection to coverage Law and Crime
  • that the court erred in denying his motion to sequester the jury
  • that the court erred in permitting Bobby Jones to testify as a forensics expert
  • that the court erred in permitting Jones’ recreation and exhibits introduced at trial
  • that the trial court erred in permitting the introduction of the scene photograph of Emma Walker’s head
  • that the trial court erred in overruling Gaul’s objection to the state’s introduction, through Detective Merritt, of evidence regarding Call of Duty and Wall Banging

After multiple attempts, Walker broke-up with Gaul in fall 2016. In October of that year, Walker told friends she was finally “done for good” according to friend, Kegan Lyle, who spoke to ABC “20/20” in a one-on-one interview. 

Gaul fired two shots into Walker’s bedroom on the night of Nov. 21, 2016, one striking Walker in the head. Investigators found that Gaul had stolen the gun from his grandfather and recruited a friend to help him discard the weapon by throwing it into the Tennessee River.

Gaul’s friends contacted law enforcement about his suspicious activity. Two friends wore a wire and body camera to capture Gaul talking about Walker’s death and efforts to dispose of evidence.

He was arrested at the River Bluff Wildlife Area, a Knoxville overlook of the Tennessee River, the day after the shooting. Gaul was indicted on several charges in January 2017.

The Knox County Commission voted to rename the PetSafe Dog Park at Tommy Schumpert Park in honor of Walker’s memory in May 2018 to honor Walker’s love for animals.

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