The college football player on trial for killing his cheerleader ex-girlfriend allegedly tried to enlist friends to help him get rid of the gun used to shoot her — a request they secretly captured on video for authorities, multiple outlets report.
For more than two hours, jurors watched a video showing ex-Maryville College wide receiver William Riley Gaul, 19, trying to convince his friends that he didn’t shoot his ex-girlfriend, Emma Walker, 16, with a gun he stole from his grandfather’s house, the Knoxville News Sentinel reports.
“I had the gun because I was scared,” Gaul is heard saying in the video, which his friends recorded using wire and audio given to them by the Knoxville County Sheriff’s Office, local station WATE reports.
The friends alerted authorities of their suspicions about Gaul — and of Gaul’s admission he had stolen his grandfather’s gun — after they learned Walker had been killed, the News Sentinel reports.
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In the video, some of which was seen by PEOPLE, Gaul explains that he was concerned for his safety after a purported kidnapping attempt he would later admit was staged.
“One thousand one percent, I never would [shoot Walker]. I would hurt myself before I hurt Emma,” he says on the video, the News Sentinel reports.
Gaul is now charged with first-degree murder and especially aggravated stalking for allegedly killing Walker in the early morning hours of Nov. 21, 2016, after shooting through the wall of her bedroom from outside her one-story home in Knoxville, Tennessee while she slept, the News Sentinel reports.
His lawyer, Wesley Stone, acknowledged to jurors that Gaul shot Walker, but said he only meant to shoot at the wall of the house – not into her bedroom – to scare her. According to Stone, the shooting was part of a ruse in which Gaul wanted to appear to be “coming to her rescue, being her hero,” the Associated Press reported.
But prosecutors allege Gaul murdered Walker intentionally. They allege he was obsessed with Walker, a popular honor student who wanted to become a neonatal nurse, and was angry that she had finally broken up with him after an on-and-off, “toxic,” two-year relationship.
In the video, Gaul becomes angry with his friends for telling authorities he had stolen his grandfather’s gun; he asks them to lie for him by saying they misheard him.
“You just tell them you were on acid, high and drunk, and you didn’t understand me,” Gaul said, the News Sentinel reports. “Yeah, just do that, because they don’t know anything or I would be in jail right now … You’re in an altered state of mind, so you didn’t know what you were saying.”
He then asks his friends help him get rid of the gun because he says he fears authorities will think he killed Walker — even though he claims on the video that he did not.
“If I throw it with enough force, if it’s the Tennessee River, they will never find it,” he says in the video, adding, “I’m trusting you guys with my life because this is 70 years in jail if I’m convicted of something I didn’t do.”
In the video, Gaul says he is not grieving Walker’s death because he is worried about being suspected in her death.
“I want to be upset but I can’t,” Gaul says in the video, adding that he is too “worried” about being arrested, the News Sentinel reports.
Unbeknownst to him, Gaul was being watched by police when he went to the Tennessee River to dispose of the gun, but he was arrested before he was able to do so, the News Sentinel reports.