Wednesday was day three of the first-degree murder trial of former Maryville College football player William Riley Gaul, accused of killing 16-year-old Central High School cheerleader Emma Walker by shooting through her bedroom wall.
For the first time during the trial, Gaul’s family took the stand. His grandfather, James Walker, was the last of the day.
An indictment says Gaul stalked Walker while having a weapon for some time between October and November 2016. Investigators believe Gaul stole a gun without the owner’s consent and tried to hide it from law enforcement.
A search warrant indicates Gaul’s grandfather James Walker discovered his gun was missing and contacted the Knox County Sheriff’s Office. He said he discovered the gun was missing on November 18 after he had driven the vehicle to Maryville College to swap vehicles with Gaul to get the tires repaired. When James Walker drove his own car back, he found the gun he normally kept under the driver’s seat was missing. He feared Gaul had taken it because he recently expressed thoughts of suicide.
During his testimony, James Walker expressed his concerns for Gaul’s well being throughout his life, especially when Gaul’s friend reached out to James Walker to express concern.
Defense attorney Wesley Stone asked James Walker directly about his concerns.
“I was,” said James Walker, “Well, because of the behavior I’d seen in the close proximity to that. You know… in my mind, it was concerning.”
James Walker said he was not concerned about Gaul hurting anyone else, nor was he concerned when his gun was reported missing.
He continued to say that he never had any suspicions Gaul was involved in Walker’s death.
“That never crossed my mind that Riley would hurt her… never crossed my mind. That wasn’t him,” said James Walker.
Assistant District Attorney Kevin Allen asked James Walker about how he felt when he learned Walker died.
“I was devastated and shocked,” said James Walker.
Several of Emma Walker’s friends took the stand, some not even 18 years old.
Her friends were asked specific details about the Friday before she was killed, November 18, 2016.
After a Central High School football game against Fulton High School, Emma Walker’s friends held a sleepover at another friend’s home.
During this time, friends say Walker was receiving multiple phone calls from an unknown number. They describe Walker as “scared” and “sad.”
Walker’s friends all support the same narrative, that Walker then went outside when she realized there was a person at the end of Sarah’s long driveway.
The prosecution noting that person was Riley Gaul. Gaul claimed to have been kidnapped, Walker told him to leave.
The defense noted during questioning, Walker chose to go outside on her own when she realized there was someone in the front yard.
“She always seemed upset… it wasn’t consistent,” said a witness and Walker’s friend.
Trial will resume Thursday morning at 10 a.m.