Police: Defendant felt victim was trying to take his place

Sheriff's deputies were led to the body of a Carson City contractor after Tony Echols told them, "I killed him. I shot him twice. The gun just went off," according to testimony in the second day of Echol's trial.

"He was trying to take my place," Echols, 41, could be heard saying in an audio-taped statement Aug. 5, 2000, to Carson City sheriff's Deputy Bill Richards as Richards prepared to take him to the jail following the discovery of Rick Albrecht's body.

"I didn't mean to do it. I didn't mean to do it. I just love my son," a sobbing Echols said on the tape. "But he took my wife from me -- my son, too."

Echols is charged with first-degree murder and burglary in Albrecht's death.

Prosecutors contend Echols, upset over an affair he believed Albrecht was having with his estranged wife, Karen, went to Albrecht's home and shot him twice in the head. Echols' attorney has argued the shooting was accidental.

Earlier the day of the killing, Echols had been arrested for violating a temporary restraining order Karen Echols had obtained against him.

Three police officers testified Wednesday in court about statements Echols made to them after they were called to his home because his mother was concerned he was going to kill himself.

Sheriff's Sgt. Mike Better said when he arrived at the Joanna Drive address, Echols revelation stunned him.

"I'm sorry, I shot him in the head," Better recalled Echols saying. "I was quite surprised," Better said.

Sheriff's Deputy Wayne Gray said Echols spoke in a "calm, monotone voice" when he told him he'd shot Albrecht.

"Mr. Echols was so calm at that time I didn't believe him. Then I saw the look on Sgt. Better's face," Gray said.

As officers went to Albrecht's home and discovered the body, Richards was conducting a pat-down search of Echols before placing him in his patrol car.

During the search, Richards said, he found five .22-caliber bullets and one larger-caliber bullet in Echols' pocket with a note that read, "You pushed me too hard, Karen. You win."

Richards said when he put Echols in the car, he began making "voluntary statements," at which time he read him his rights.

Then with a tape-recorder running, Echols agreed to speak and Richards captured Echols comments on tape.

"I was leaning over the couch and (Albrecht) was sitting there talking to me. I stood up. I'd been there for a while and things were going numb. I didn't even feel (the gun) go off" Echols said. "He was trying to take my place. I just wanted him to please stay away from my son."

Echols told Richards he hadn't seen his son in two months. He said that during his first visit two days earlier his 8-year-old son, A.J., told him Albrecht had taken him fishing.

Echols told the deputy he'd been arrested earlier in the day for violating the restraining order. Because it was his second time being arrested for that, he said he was worried this time the judge would put him in jail for six months.

"I mean, I would never see (my son) again," Echols said on the tape. "So, I went over there and I just wanted him to stay away from A.J."

At another point in the tape, Echols apologized to his son.

"He's a little 8-year-old. He's never going to see me again," Echols said crying. "He's such a good boy."

Testimony in the prosecution's case is scheduled to continue today.


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