William Riley Gaul was 18 when he was arrested and charged with the murder of his ex-girlfriend Emma Walker, who had been shot and killed while she was in her bed sleeping on November 21, 2016. The 16-year-old Knox County, Tennessee, cheerleader and star student had broken up with her on-and-off boyfriend for good a few weeks prior, ABC News reported.
Gaul, a college football player, was arrested the following evening after two of his friends helped investigators expose him as he was trying to destroy evidence, the outlet wrote. Prior to his arrest, Gaul had covered his social media with tributes to his ex-girlfriend, writing on his Twitter bio, “Living everyday through Emma Walker. I love you beautiful and I know you’re in a better place now.”
His trial for first-degree murder and various other charges in connection with Walker’s death began in April 2018. Where is William Riley Gaul today?
He Was Found Guilty & Sentenced to Life in Prison & Will Be Eligible for Parole After 51 Years
In May 2018, Gaul was found guilty by the Knox County jury of first-degree murder, stalking, reckless endangerment, theft, tampering with evidence and possession of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony. He received a mandatory life sentence but he will be eligible for parole after 51 years, at the age of 71 years old, Knox News reported.
At his sentencing, Gaul told Walker’s family, “I’m sorry I took Emma away from you. I loved Emma — there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about her or what I did,” the outlet reported. Gaul’s attorney said during his trial that his client’s intention was never to kill Walker, simply to scare her and get her attention. According to ABC News, Gaul’s attorney Wesley Stone said:
He was attempting to get her to ask him for help again, sort of to be her protector. It’s been in his heart. It’s been in his mind. It’s been in just everything about him. Every day for the rest of his life, wherever that may be, he will have to live with that reality.
Gaul is serving his sentence at the Northwest Correctional Complex, a state prison in Lake County, Tennessee, public records show.
A Judge Denied Adding Extra Time Onto His Life Sentence in 2018 & Said His Current Sentence Is Long Enough
In September 2018, a judge ruled that Gaul would not have to serve additional time for Walker’s murder. According to Knox News, Criminal Court Judge Bob McGee said, “What happened in this case was very unique to these two people. He killed one person — this young woman. His sentence is already a very long one.”
Prosecutors had argued that Gaul’s convictions in addition to the first-degree murder conviction should result in a longer sentence, the outlet wrote. Assistant District Attorney General Molly Martin told the court, “Keep him where he belongs. He doesn’t deserve any opportunity to ever get out of prison.” Instead, his sentence for the other convictions is about 10 years long but will run concurrently to his life sentence and have no impact on the overall length of his time in prison.