Murder defendant claims two shots came separately |

Murder defendant claims two shots came separately

by F.T. Norton, Appeal Staff Writer
Defense attorney Tod Young and murder defendant Anthony Echols discuss the murder weapon Monday, as Echols prepares to demonstrate for the jury how he shot contractor Rick Albrecht twice in the head Aug. 5, 2000. Echols claims the shooting was an accident.

Holding a rifle in court Monday, a Carson City man described to a jury how he accidentally fired two gunshots to the head of the man he thought was his wife’s lover.

“I went to get up and I fell forward and the gun fired. I didn’t even register what happened,” Tony Echols said of the Aug. 5, 2000, shooting for which is on trial for first-degree murder of Rick Albrecht, 46, a Carson City home builder.

After the first shot, Echols said, Albrecht slumped forward.

Echols, demonstrating with the .22-caliber Ruger rifle and a chair, said he then leaned over the back of the love seat he’d been kneeling behind to check on Albrecht’s welfare. At that point, the 25-round clip of the weapon caught on the back of the couch “and went off again.”

Echols said he ran from the room, then went back and called to Albrecht, who had “blood pouring out of his ear.”

“I was careless, but I didn’t do it on purpose. We’d come to an understanding. I had no reason to hurt the man,” Echols said. “Everything happened so fast, it was over before I could do anything.”

Echols, a maintenance supervisor at the Reno Hilton, said he was driven by thoughts of protecting his 8-year-old son’s emotional welfare when he went to Albrecht’s Firebox Road home.

The boy didn’t like Albrecht to be with his mom and had nightmares of his father covered in blood at the hands of Albrecht, Echols said.

To prevent “another wrestling match” like a fight that happened on Dec. 5, 1999, when Albrecht got the better of him, Echols took with him the “imposing” rifle to talk to Albrecht about staying away from the boy. Albrecht invited him in to talk, Echols said.

But prosecutors say Echols, who was “addicted” to his estranged wife, Karen Cade, took the rifle with him intending to enact revenge on the man he saw as breaking up his family.

He is being tried on charges of first-degree murder and burglary. If convicted he faces life imprisonment.

Albrecht, unarmed with his hands clasped in his lap, died on his couch from two gunshot wounds — one that entered his left eyebrow and a second shot that entered the top of his head.

Earlier on Aug. 5, 2000, Echols had been arrested for violating a restraining order his estranged wife had against him by driving past both her’s and Albrecht’s homes the night before.

“You had a loaded gun and you were angry, isn’t that true?” Chief Deputy District Attorney Anne Langer asked Echols under cross-examination.

“I was worried about my son and hurt,” he said.

“(Albrecht’s) sitting on the couch with his hands folded. Are you sure he wasn’t praying for his life?” she shot back.

“He wasn’t praying,” Echols said.

Echols is expected to continue his testimony today.

At one point during her questioning, Langer accidentally pulled the trigger while the unloaded rifle was pointed at District Judge Bill Maddox, who is hearing the case.

“Oh, I’m sorry, your honor,” Langer said, as laughter erupted in the courtroom.

“It could happen to anybody,” said defense attorney Tod Young.