The state and defense each rested its case on Monday afternoon in the sixth day of the murder trial for a Maryville College football player accused of shooting and killing his ex-girlfriend. Riley Gaul is charged with the murder of Emma Walker, 16, who was shot to death in her own bedroom on the night of Nov. 21, 2016. That gunfire came through the wall of her home, killing her.
On Monday, forensic pathologist Dr. Christopher Lockmuller with the medical examiner’s office testified about the night Emma was shot, calling her death a homicide.
Lockmuller said the bullet that struck Emma passed through another object before it entered her head.
“Whether she had any consciousness, I doubt that,” Lockmuller testified. “There’s no indication from the scene that she got out of bed, then got back into bed.
The defense questioned Lockmuller, asking if there was anything Emma’s mother could have done when she found her daughter the next morning. Lockmuller said there was nothing she could have done, other than to call 911.
Knox County Sheriff’s Office Investigator Richard Merritt took the stand next. Merritt described the crime scene, as well as the discovery of bullet holes in the outside wall of Emma’s bedroom. He added that the shooter would have been four or five feet from the back corner of the residence.
“Once the person fired this round, they then turned and jumped over the fence.” Merritt’s explanation of his investigation of the scene, after noticing scuff marks on the backyard fence at the Walker’s house.
He testified that, based on statements from Emma’s family and other interviews, it was determined that Riley Gaul was a possible suspect.
Gaul interviewed by investigators
Jurors were then shown Gaul’s original interview with investigators from November 2016. Gaul is seen in a room with an investigator and is asked where he was the night of Emma’s death.
Gaul is seen telling the investigator about the rumors he’s heard surrounding Emma’s death. He mentions suicide or that a stray bullet went through the wall.
An investigator asked Gaul if he could think of anyone who wanted to hurt Emma, to which responded, “Not off the top of my head, no.”
Gaul then tells investigators about the Saturday before Emma died, when a man dressed in black came to the Walker’s home trying to get in. Prosecutors say that man was Riley Gaul.
The interrogation then shifted to an alleged kidnapping, which Gaul said happened the Friday before Emma was killed. Gaul said in the interview he was kidnapped by two men, but doesn’t want to talk about it because it was “traumatizing.”
Investigators then told Gaul they’ve spoken to his friends, who said they recently saw Gaul with his grandfather’s handgun.
“I never had a gun,” Gaul told investigators.
Investigators continued asking Gaul why his friends would lie to investigators about seeing Gaul with his grandfather’s gun, to which he responded, “I don’t know.”
“You’ve got good friends and they’re worried about you,” the investigator told Gaul.
Throughout the interview, Gaul maintained that he never had the gun. When investigators asked him why he asked a friend to get fingerprintse off a gun, Gaul said he never asked for help like that. When pressed with a more specific tiem, Gaul said, “I do remember that,” saying it was for his roommate.
“I’m telling you the truth from my perspective.” Gaul tells investigators, saying he has nothing else to say, if the same questions are going to get asked.
“I could care less you thinking that you have a gun or something, but I hope to God I am not suspect in her death,” Gaul told investigators. “Never have I said ‘I am going to hurt you.'”
Investigators then told Gaul they recovered rounds at the Walker’s home that are the same type of rounds used in Gaul’s grandfather’s gun.
Investigators then asked Gaul who would want to take his grandfather’s gun and “shoot at that house.”
The investigator asked Gaul if he shot at the house, to which Gaul responded, “No, sir.”
The Defense’s Case
The defense moved to introduce texts between Gaul and Emma that show Gaul was helping her with her homework, saying it will show his state of mind. However, the prosecution argued it’s only one side of the text conversations; there is no response from Emma and therefore doesn’t show the nature of the relationship. The jury was not in the courtroom for the discussion.
The defense introduced the text messages, then rested its case without calling any witnesses. Jurors were sent home for the day. Court will resume on Tuesday at 9 a.m.
Last Week’s Testimony
During Thursday’s court proceedings, the jurors were shown secretly recorded video from a body camera worn by one of Gaul’s friends showing the time leading up to Gaul’s arrest in November 2016.
Friday’s proceedings focused on crime analysis. The photos and videos captured by investigators, that attorneys played during testimony, was not allowed to be recorded by our cameras because Emma Walker was a juvenile.
There was discussion regarding some of the more graphic photos and video taken by KCSO investigators. Ultimately the judge decided to allow the video and audio from that recording to be played for jurors.
A number of Emma’s friends, along with her family, came to court in purple, some of the shirts saying “Rest Easy EJW.”