A Carson City contractor's death was a "terrible accident" brought about by the emotional roller coaster a distraught father was on, a defense attorney said Tuesday during opening statements in the trial of Anthony Echols.
Echols, 41, sat quietly as attorneys outlined their cases in the first day of his trial in the shooting death of Rick Albrecht, 46 -- the man Echols believed was his estranged wife's lover.
Echols is charged with first-degree murder and burglary. If convicted, he faces life in prison. Testimony continues today.
For months, Echols' wife, Karen, had tortured her husband with promises of a reconciliation, all the while maintaining an "affair" with Albrecht, Young said in describing the "yo-yoing" of the couple's relationship.
Echols had moved out of the couple's home and into an apartment, Young said, but he was unable to let go of his wife and son completely. Echols was arrested Aug. 5, 2000, for driving past her home the previous evening.
After bailing out of jail, Echols hoped talking with Albrecht would somehow prevent him from losing contact with his 8-year-old son, the defense attorney said.
It had been two days since Echols had been allowed to visit the child after a judge denied visitation for two months following a previous violation of the restraining order, Young said.
Echols took a gun with him, Young said, because the last time he and Albrecht had a fight, the contractor got the better of Echols, who has had four shoulder surgeries.
Although he called it accidental, Young offered no explanation Tuesday for how the .22-caliber Ruger discharged.
Young said Echols will take the stand during the trial.
Albrecht was found seated on his couch with two gunshot wounds to his head. Officers went to the home following an interview with Echols in which he allegedly admitted the shooting.
The prosecution says the shooting was no accident.
"This is the evidence that will show it was not justified, not excused, not self-defense, not an accident," Deputy District Attorney Jason Woodbury told the jury. "This is the evidence that will show you the killing of Rick Albrecht was murder."
Woodbury laid out a prosecution case that will present testimony from witnesses who claim Echols had said he wanted to kill Albrecht.
"If I weren't a Christian, I'd take my shotgun over there and kill that guy," Woodbury said Echols told the witnesses.
Echols was jealous of Albrecht, and blamed him for the destruction of his marriage, but the marriage was over long before Albrecht was hired to build the couple's Buzzy Ranch home in 1999, Woodbury said.
"Karen will tell you about how it had been deteriorating long before Rick Albrecht," the prosecutor said.
An ominous message on Albrecht's voice mail three months before his murder was left by Echols, Woodbury said.
"You and Karen may think you are so damn smart, but one day, Rick, God's going to take care of you," Woodbury recited from a transcript of the message.