Man convicted of murdering Emma Walker denied new trial

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – A motion for a new trial filed by attorneys representing Riley Gaul, the college football player convicted of murdering Central High School cheerleader Emma Walker in 2016, was denied on Friday.

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Defense Attorney Wesley D. Stone was seeking an acquittal based on insufficient evidence and a new trial if the acquittal was not granted. Both motions were denied in Knox County court Friday morning. Stone said they will file a motion appealing the decisions.

Stone claimed in the request for a new trial that the court erred in denying Gaul’s objection to coverage by Law and Crime Network, his motion to sequester the jury and objections to certain testimony and evidence entered into the record.

The judge denied the motion on the basis that there was not enough disputable evidence to order a new trial.

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.

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. 

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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.

Suspect’s friends take stand, prosecution shows body camera footage of Gaul’s arrest 

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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