Guilty: Jury rejects accidental-shooting claim
In less than three hours Wednesday, a Carson City jury found Tony Echols guilty of first-degree murder and rejected his claims that the shooting of custom-home builder Rick Albrecht twice in the head two years ago was accidental.
The jury will decide Echols’ sentence after testimony that begins today. He faces life imprisonment.
Echols, 41, sat emotionless Wednesday evening as the verdict was read in District Judge Bill Maddox’s Carson City courtroom.
About a dozen of Albrecht’s relatives stifled sobs and clung to one another following the reading of “guilty” on both counts brought by the state — burglary and first-degree murder.
“You don’t gain anything from the verdict; you are just grateful justice is served,” said Albrecht’s younger sister, Cathy Atchian.
Atchian, one of four remaining Albrecht children, has attended every court hearing since her brother’s murder.
“This is not a bad divorce followed by a murder — this is a murder,” said Chief Deputy District Attorney Anne Langer in closing arguments Wednesday afternoon.
Following seven days of testimony, the jury of nine women and three men left for lunch about 2 p.m. then began deliberations. They came back with a verdict at 5:15 p.m.
On Aug. 5, 2000, Echols went to the home of Albrecht, whom he believed was having an affair with his estranged wife, Karen Cade. Earlier that day, Echols had been arrested for violating a restraining order Cade had against him.
Albrecht, 46, was found dead in his home with two gunshot wounds — one in the center of his left eyebrow and a second in the top of his head. Blood-spatter evidence indicates Albrecht breathed for some time before dying.
Echols unsuccessfully tried to convince the jury he had accidentally shot Albrecht after the two had come to an agreement about Albrecht staying away from Echols’ child.
“He was angry, and he went over there, and he shot (Albrecht), and he had time to think and he shot him again,” Langer argued. “You don’t get off two kill shots to the head and then be able to come in here and say it was an accident.”
Langer, who tried the case with Deputy District Attorney Jason Woodbury, said she was relieved by the verdict.
“We are very pleased with the jury’s verdict. The jury paid careful attention to the facts of this case and came to the correct conclusion,” she said in a written statement. “In spite of very emotional and trying circumstances, justice was served.”
Atchian said the hardest part of the trial for Albrecht’s family was reliving his murder and listening to Echols’ lies.
She hugged Langer tightly following the verdict.
“I never had a shadow of a doubt that Anne would get a conviction,” Atchian said. “I told her ‘I know you can do it,’ and she did.”