A man convicted of shooting and killing his sleeping girlfriend will serve at least five decades in prison after his sentencing was completed Friday. 

Riley Gaul, 19, received sentences for the charges of stalking, reckless endangerment, theft, tampering with evidence and possession of a firearm Friday, totaling almost 11 years. Gaul will serve that time concurrently, or the same time, with his sentence of 51 years for first-degree murder and felony murder. 

His mandatory life term for first-degree murder and felony murder would allow him to be eligible for parole after 51 years. 

“Keep him where he belongs. He doesn’t deserve any opportunity to ever get out of prison,” said Assistant District Attorney General Molly Martin.

The state argued the remaining charges should be stacked on Gaul’s life sentence, consecutive. 

His defense attorney, Wesley Stone, asked the court for a concurrent sentence. 

“Their [state] assertions and their very aggressive posture in this, in my opinion, your Honor… and in Mr. Gaul’s opinion is to get this court, quite frankly, to hate Mr. Gaul,” said Stone. 

The state objected to Stone’s claims. Gaul’s defense then rereading Gaul’s apology statement he read himself in court two weeks before. 

The state called Gaul “emotionless” throughout the entire trial. 

“The emotional aspect he put these people through is just as bad as the physical. If not worse,” said ADA Martin. 

Gaul was convicted back in May of first-degree murder in the death of Central High School cheerleader Emma Walker. The two had previously been in a relationship. 

Sentencing and Charges Breakdown

A September 14 sentencing hearing for the additional charges was continued Friday, September 28, Judge Bob McGee held off sentencing until he was able to determine how to apply the law. 

  • Count 1: First Degree Murder: Life with Parole 
  • Count 2: Stalking 11 months, 29 days 
  • Count 3: Theft 1 years
  • Count 4: Tampering with Evidence: 3 years 
  • Count 5: Reckless Endangerment 3 years 
  • Count 6: Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of a Dangerous Felony 3 years
  • Count 7: Felony Murder, life sentence merges with Count 1 

Gaul is currently in prison serving his mandatory life term. He’ll be eligible for parole in 2069. 

Emma Walker’s Legacy

The 16-year-old Central High School student dreamed of being a NICU Nurse. She loved the healthcare profession and wanted to help others, according to her family. 

In 2017, East Tennessee Children’s Hospital dedicated a room in the NICU wing in Walker’s honor. 

At Central High School, the Emma Walker Memorial Scholarship Fund was setup in December 2016 to support students, like Walker, who wanted to pursue a career in the healthcare profession. 

A silent auction fundraiser is set for November 30, 2018. All proceeds will go to the scholarship, raising money to support students every year.