16 episodes

Tulsa Attorneys Leslie Briggs and Colleen McCarty delve into the depths of a hometown murder case from 1998. After years of abuse and rape, April Wilkens shot ex-fiance Terry Carlton in self defense. Even though she could prove she was in fear of her life, the jury didn’t believe her. She was sentenced to LIFE and is entering her 25th year of incarceration.

Panic Button: The April Wilkens Case Oklahoma Appleseed Center for Law and Justice

    • True Crime
    • 4.9 • 174 Ratings

Tulsa Attorneys Leslie Briggs and Colleen McCarty delve into the depths of a hometown murder case from 1998. After years of abuse and rape, April Wilkens shot ex-fiance Terry Carlton in self defense. Even though she could prove she was in fear of her life, the jury didn’t believe her. She was sentenced to LIFE and is entering her 25th year of incarceration.

    The Shooting | 1

    The Shooting | 1

    Terry Carlton is found shot dead in his basement in Tulsa, Oklahoma. When the police arrive, his long-time on-again-off-again fiance, April Wilkens, answers the door. "I shot him, he's in the basement," she says.
    But this wasn't exactly an open and shut case. Terry had raped April mere hours before the shooting. It was while he was violating her that he said he was going to kill her and twisted her neck to break it. During the life and death struggle for her life, April knows she had no options--it wasn't a feeling, she had no options.
    In 1999, Wilkens was tried by the state of Oklahoma and sentenced by a jury to LIFE. She's now 51-years-old, and 25 years into her sentence. Panic Button is the untold story of the escalating cycles of abuse that led to Terry Carlton's death, and the unthinkable ways survivors of violence get chewed up and spit out by Oklahoma's justice system.
    In this first episode, attorneys Colleen McCarty and Leslie Briggs tell the story of the night of the murder, the facts in the record, and April's testimony from the stand at trial. 
    Resources:

    Detailed Timeline of Events in April's Case: https://aprilwilkensblog.wordpress.com/2022/02/12/timeline-of-events/


    Sign the Change.org petition to support April's release: https://www.change.org/p/oklahoma-pardon-parole-board-commute-the-life-sentence-of-abuse-survivor-april-wilkens?signed=true

    See pictures of April's and Terry's houses now and watch a video of host Colleen McCarty driving from April's to Terry's so you can see how close they lived at the time of the murder. https://okappleseed.org/episode-1-show-notes

    Donate to keep our work going!: neappleseed.org/okappleseed


    Learn more about Oklahoma Appleseed: okappleseed.org

    If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, use a safe computer and contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at www.thehotline.org or call 1-800-799-7233. You can also search for a local domestic violence shelter at www.domesticshelters.org/.
    If you have experienced sexual assault and need support, visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) at www.rainn.org or call 1-800-656-HOPE.
    Have questions about consent? Take a look at this guide from RAINN at www.rainn.org/articles/what-is-consent.
    Learn more about criminalized survival at www.survivedandpunishedny.org/.
    Learn more about the Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act at www.nysda.org/page/DVSJA.
    Follow the #freeaprilwilkens campaign on Instagram at @freeaprilwilkens, and on their webpage at https://aprilwilkensblog.wordpress.com/.
    Colleen McCarty is one of the hosts, executive director of Oklahoma Appleseed, and producer.  Leslie Briggs is the other host who is a civil rights and immigration attorney, and producer. Additional audio production by Rusty Rowe. Support from Amanda Ross and Ashlyn Faulkner. Our theme music is Velvet Rope by Gyom. 
    Panic Button is created in partnership with Oklahoma Appleseed Center for Law and Justice and Leslie Briggs. Follow OK Appleseed on Twitter and Instagram at @ok_appleseed.
    If you want to continue the conversation with other listeners, please join our Panic Button podcast community on Bookclubz at bit.ly/3NRHO8C.
     
    Transcript: 
    Before we get started, a content warning: this episode contains accounts of domestic and sexual violence.
    April Wilkens is a middle aged grandmother who would risk everything if it meant keeping her son Hunter from harm. She's a pacifist, a vegan, and she weighs 105 pounds. She's a health nut, leads Five K's in her spare time. In the early morning hours of April 28, 1998. She changed the course of her life and Hunter's life forever. And she did it to protect him and to save her own life.
    In 1998, Tulsa was a small-to-midsize city in the Midwest. It dots the northeast corner of Oklahoma. Scorching hot in the summers, below freezing in the winters,  this city in the heart of tornado alley is often known as a city of dualities. Tulsa is largely sustained by the oil

    • 33 min
    Small Town Girl Living in a Violent World | 2

    Small Town Girl Living in a Violent World | 2

    In this episode we go back in time to 1980's Kellyville, Oklahoma where April grew up. Then we follow her to the car lot where she met Terry. We will hear the tape that April recorded of a fight between she and Terry after their trip to Italy. On the trip he beat her threatened to and throw her out of their hotel room naked, only to be caught by one of his fellow travelers on the trip. We are trying to categorize the time and place of April and Terry's relationship, and look for patterns of abuse, which escalated as law enforcement continued to turn a blind eye.
    Resources:
    For pictures of April as a kid, her wedding, the early years with Hunter, and pictures introduced at trial of April and Terry's international trips,  visit okappleseed.org/episode-2-show-notes 

    LA Times article about Don Carlton's bribery scandal: https://web.archive.org/web/20211117194929/https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1994-03-16-fi-34784-story.html%C2%A0


    TIME Magazine story on Honda scams: http://content.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,3976,00.html

    Instagram post containing the Affidavit of Federal Judge Claire Egan: https://www.instagram.com/p/CQWQJrUDy-m/

    Detailed Timeline of Events in April's Case: https://aprilwilkensblog.wordpress.com/2022/02/12/timeline-of-events/


    Sign the Change.org petition to support April's release: https://www.change.org/p/oklahoma-pardon-parole-board-commute-the-life-sentence-of-abuse-survivor-april-wilkens?signed=true


    Donate to keep our work going!: neappleseed.org/okappleseed


    Learn more about Oklahoma Appleseed: okappleseed.org

    If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, use a safe computer and contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at www.thehotline.org or call 1-800-799-7233. You can also search for a local domestic violence shelter at www.domesticshelters.org/.
    If you have experienced sexual assault and need support, visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) at www.rainn.org or call 1-800-656-HOPE.
    Have questions about consent? Take a look at this guide from RAINN at www.rainn.org/articles/what-is-consent.
    Learn more about criminalized survival at www.survivedandpunishedny.org/.
    Learn more about the Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act at www.nysda.org/page/DVSJA.
    Follow the #freeaprilwilkens campaign on Instagram at @freeaprilwilkens, on Twitter and on their webpage at https://aprilwilkensblog.wordpress.com/.
    Colleen McCarty is one of the hosts, executive director of Oklahoma Appleseed, and producer.  Leslie Briggs is the other host who is a civil rights and immigration attorney, and producer. Rusty Rowe provides additional production support. We're recorded at Bison and Bean Studios in Tulsa. Additional support from Amanda Ross and Ashlyn Faulkner. Our theme music is Velvet Rope by Gyom. 
    Panic Button is created in partnership with Oklahoma Appleseed Center for Law and Justice and Leslie Briggs. Follow OK Appleseed on Twitter and Instagram at @ok_appleseed.
    If you want to continue the conversation with other listeners, please join our Panic Button podcast community on Bookclubz at bit.ly/3NRHO8C.
     
    TRANSCRIPT
    Leslie Briggs 00:00
    Glenda McCarley had tried to get the badge number of Officer Aaron Tallman just a few months before the shooting of Terry Carlton. She said his response to April Wilkens, her neighbor across the street on Quincy, was, quote, "infuriating." Glenda had seen numerous times Terry stalking around April's house in the late winter of 1997 and early spring of 1998. She said quote, "it was almost a joke, I think, among the neighbors, how he had the timing down so that he could always just leave and two seconds later, they'd round the corner." The he that the neighbors joked about was of course the decedent in this case, Terry Carlton. Regardless, when Officer Tallman arrived to find April sitting on Glenda's porch in the spring of 1998, waiting for help from yet another violent encounter, he walked up to the porch, look

    • 36 min
    Hostile State | 3

    Hostile State | 3

    In the ongoing nightmare of April and Terry's relationship, the event that catapults them into pure chaos starts on the night of December 6th, 1997. April has been staying away from Terry, but ends up going to his house to ask for the money he owes her. His place is wrecked and he doesn't look so good. What happens next launches Terry and April into an unbreakable cycle of violence that no one was able to stop--except April herself.
    ___________________

    Resources:
    For pictures of exhibits introduced at trial of the scene of the rape, April's injuries, and more visit okappleseed.org/episode-3-show-notes 

    LA Times article about Don Carlton's bribery scandal: https://web.archive.org/web/20211117194929/https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1994-03-16-fi-34784-story.html%C2%A0


    TIME Magazine story on Honda scams: http://content.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,3976,00.html

    Instagram post containing the Affidavit of Federal Judge Claire Egan: https://www.instagram.com/p/CQWQJrUDy-m/

    Detailed Timeline of Events in April's Case: https://aprilwilkensblog.wordpress.com/2022/02/12/timeline-of-events/


    Sign the Change.org petition to support April's release: https://www.change.org/p/oklahoma-pardon-parole-board-commute-the-life-sentence-of-abuse-survivor-april-wilkens?signed=true


    Donate to keep our work going!: neappleseed.org/okappleseed


    Learn more about Oklahoma Appleseed: okappleseed.org

    If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, use a safe computer and contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at www.thehotline.org or call 1-800-799-7233. You can also search for a local domestic violence shelter at www.domesticshelters.org/.
    If you have experienced sexual assault and need support, visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) at www.rainn.org or call 1-800-656-HOPE.
    Have questions about consent? Take a look at this guide from RAINN at www.rainn.org/articles/what-is-consent.
    Learn more about criminalized survival at www.survivedandpunishedny.org/.
    Learn more about the Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act at www.nysda.org/page/DVSJA.
    Follow the #freeaprilwilkens campaign on Instagram at @freeaprilwilkens, on Twitter and on their webpage at https://aprilwilkensblog.wordpress.com/.
    Colleen McCarty is one of the hosts, executive director of Oklahoma Appleseed, and producer.  Leslie Briggs is the other host who is a civil rights and immigration attorney, and producer. Rusty Rowe provides additional production support. We're recorded at Bison and Bean Studios in Tulsa. Additional support from Amanda Ross and Ashlyn Faulkner. Our theme music is Velvet Rope by Gyom. 
    Panic Button is created in partnership with Oklahoma Appleseed Center for Law and Justice and Leslie Briggs. Follow OK Appleseed on Twitter and Instagram at @ok_appleseed.
    If you want to continue the conversation with other listeners, please join our Panic Button podcast community on Bookclubz at bit.ly/3NRHO8C.
     
    TRANSCRIPT: 
     
    Colleen McCarty 00:01
    If you're just tuning in, I suggest you go back and start listening from chapter one. Before we start a content warning: this episode contains accounts of domestic and sexual violence. Today's episode is a little longer than usual, we hope you'll stick with us. It's better for the story. If we tell you this chunk all together, the amount of violence, abuse, and frankly astounding acts of coercive control detailed in this episode are overwhelming. So take breaks when you need to. In early December of 1997, April's childhood friend Carrie was struggling. She had an infant child, and she was about to lose her house if she couldn't make the mortgage. April and Carrie had known each other since the eighth grade. When Carrie called April that night near Christmas in 1997, she was in tears. She was going to lose the house; she could lose the baby. Carrie wanted to know if April could loan her some money, just this once, to help her get out of this financial crisis. Ap

    • 47 min
    Setting the Tone | 4

    Setting the Tone | 4

    In this episode, we hear about the confession, the arrest, the SANE exam, and the year April spent in jail in pre-trial detention.
    Even though she was presumed innocent, she was required to stay in jail on no bond due to the seriousness of her charge. 
    We also hear about the politics playing out at the Tulsa County District Attorney's Office in the years leading up to the shooting, and what might've made DA Tim Harris hungry for a conviction in his first big murder case as DA.
    ___________________

    Resources:
    For crime scene photos entered at trial, supplemental info, and to see Lynda Driskell's letter to the parole board, visit okappleseed.org/episode-4-show-notes 
    To learn more about voir dire, jury selection, & potential policy solutions, check out this article: https://www.ncsc-jurystudies.org/__data/assets/pdf_file/0026/6839/buildgbettervoirdire_000.pdf

    Detailed Timeline of Events in April's Case compiled by April herself with help from her niece, Amanda: https://aprilwilkensblog.wordpress.com/2022/02/12/timeline-of-events/


    Sign the Change.org petition to support April's release: https://www.change.org/p/oklahoma-pardon-parole-board-commute-the-life-sentence-of-abuse-survivor-april-wilkens?signed=true


    Donate to keep our work going!: neappleseed.org/okappleseed


    Learn more about Oklahoma Appleseed: okappleseed.org

    If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, use a safe computer and contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at www.thehotline.org or call 1-800-799-7233. You can also search for a local domestic violence shelter at www.domesticshelters.org/.
    If you have experienced sexual assault and need support, visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) at www.rainn.org or call 1-800-656-HOPE.
    Have questions about consent? Take a look at this guide from RAINN at www.rainn.org/articles/what-is-consent.
    Learn more about criminalized survival at www.survivedandpunishedny.org/.
    Learn more about the Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act at www.nysda.org/page/DVSJA.
    Follow the #freeaprilwilkens campaign on Instagram at @freeaprilwilkens, on Twitter and on their webpage at https://aprilwilkensblog.wordpress.com/.
    Colleen McCarty is one of the hosts, executive director of Oklahoma Appleseed, and producer.  Leslie Briggs is the other host who is a civil rights and immigration attorney, and producer. Rusty Rowe provides additional production support. We're recorded at Bison and Bean Studios in Tulsa. Additional support from Amanda Ross and Ashlyn Faulkner. Our theme music is Velvet Rope by Gyom. 
    Panic Button is created in partnership with Oklahoma Appleseed Center for Law and Justice and Leslie Briggs. Follow OK Appleseed on Twitter and Instagram at @ok_appleseed.
    If you want to continue the conversation with other listeners, please join our Panic Button podcast community on Bookclubz at bit.ly/3NRHO8C.
     
    TRANSCRIPT:
     
    Leslie Briggs 00:00
    If you're just tuning in, I suggest you go back and start listening from chapter one. Before we start a content warning: this episode contains accounts of domestic and sexual violence. This episode is going to be a little different than our previous three. This episode is being released in two parts. In part one of this episode, we'll detail April's arrest and her time spent in County lockup, and preview what the jury selection process is like, some global issues we see with the process, and summarize some of the more poignant and glaring juror stories that illuminate those global issues. In the second part, we take a break from the rigorous storytelling to offer our insights, analysis and commentary into the jury selection process. We hope to show you two things with this two part episode: one, how lawyers for both sides in this case attempt to use the jury selection to begin to manipulate the jurors and two, how prevalent domestic violence was in Tulsa in 1999... This is Panic Button: chapter four, Setting the Tone. I'm Leslie Briggs.

    • 24 min
    Wading Through The Jury Pool | 5

    Wading Through The Jury Pool | 5

    When April goes to trial for first-degree murder in April of 1999, over half of the potential jurors in the initial pool had suffered from--or perpetrated--domestic violence. Leslie and Colleen wade through the pool to get a feel for what the community was like that would be judging April's guilt. 
    ____________________________________
    Resources:
    To learn more about voir dire, jury selection, & potential policy solutions, check out this article: https://www.ncsc-jurystudies.org/__data/assets/pdf_file/0026/6839/buildgbettervoirdire_000.pdf

    Detailed Timeline of Events in April's Case compiled by April herself with help from her niece, Amanda: https://aprilwilkensblog.wordpress.com/2022/02/12/timeline-of-events/


    Sign the Change.org petition to support April's release: https://www.change.org/p/oklahoma-pardon-parole-board-commute-the-life-sentence-of-abuse-survivor-april-wilkens?signed=true


    Donate to keep our work going!: neappleseed.org/okappleseed


    Learn more about Oklahoma Appleseed: okappleseed.org

    If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, use a safe computer and contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at www.thehotline.org or call 1-800-799-7233. You can also search for a local domestic violence shelter at www.domesticshelters.org/.
    If you have experienced sexual assault and need support, visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) at www.rainn.org or call 1-800-656-HOPE.
    Have questions about consent? Take a look at this guide from RAINN at www.rainn.org/articles/what-is-consent.
    Learn more about criminalized survival at www.survivedandpunishedny.org/.
    Learn more about the Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act at www.nysda.org/page/DVSJA.
    Follow the #freeaprilwilkens campaign on Instagram at @freeaprilwilkens, on Twitter and on their webpage at https://aprilwilkensblog.wordpress.com/.
    Colleen McCarty is one of the hosts, executive director of Oklahoma Appleseed, and producer.  Leslie Briggs is the other host who is a civil rights and immigration attorney, and producer. Rusty Rowe provides substantial audio production support. We're recorded at Bison and Bean Studios in Tulsa. Additional support from Amanda Ross and Ashlyn Faulkner. Our theme music is Velvet Rope by Gyom. 
    Panic Button is created in partnership with Oklahoma Appleseed Center for Law and Justice and Leslie Briggs. Follow OK Appleseed on Twitter and Instagram at @ok_appleseed.
    If you want to continue the conversation with other listeners, please join our Panic Button podcast community on Bookclubz at bit.ly/3NRHO8C.

    • 49 min
    Ninja in the Night - Part 1 | 6

    Ninja in the Night - Part 1 | 6

    The State begins to present its evidence in April Wilkens' first-degree murder trial. In the Spring of 1999, April was absolutely convinced that the jury would acquit her after hearing her evidence of abuse, especially after hearing the testimony from the SANE nurse that proved she had been raped the night of the shooting. She was sure they would come to understand Terry's chronic intimate terrorism and understand she'd had no choice but to pull the trigger. 
    Instead, the State paints her as a psycho ex-girlfriend fiending for drugs. Every trope imaginable is called up to prejudice the jury against her: gold digger, slut, junkie, and whore. The two most helpful witnesses the prosecution puts on are the medical examiner, Dr. Distefano, and the SANE Nurse, Kathy Bell.
    _________________________
    To view the diagrams used by the State and Dr. Distefano as well as pictures of the clothing April was wearing that got bagged in the rape kit visit okappleseed.org/episode-6-show-notes

    Detailed Timeline of Events in April's Case compiled by April herself with help from her niece, Amanda: https://aprilwilkensblog.wordpress.com/2022/02/12/timeline-of-events/


    Sign the Change.org petition to support April's release: https://www.change.org/p/oklahoma-pardon-parole-board-commute-the-life-sentence-of-abuse-survivor-april-wilkens?signed=true


    Donate to keep our work going!: neappleseed.org/okappleseed


    Learn more about Oklahoma Appleseed: okappleseed.org

    If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, use a safe computer and contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at www.thehotline.org or call 1-800-799-7233. You can also search for a local domestic violence shelter at www.domesticshelters.org/.
    If you have experienced sexual assault and need support, visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) at www.rainn.org or call 1-800-656-HOPE.
    Have questions about consent? Take a look at this guide from RAINN at www.rainn.org/articles/what-is-consent.
    Learn more about criminalized survival at www.survivedandpunishedny.org/.
    Learn more about the Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act at www.nysda.org/page/DVSJA.
    Follow the #freeaprilwilkens campaign on Instagram at @freeaprilwilkens, on Twitter and on their webpage at https://aprilwilkensblog.wordpress.com/.
    Colleen McCarty is one of the hosts, executive director of Oklahoma Appleseed, and producer.  Leslie Briggs is the other host who is a civil rights and immigration attorney, and producer. Rusty Rowe provides substantial audio production support. We're recorded at Bison and Bean Studios in Tulsa. Additional support from Amanda Ross and Ashlyn Faulkner. Our theme music is Velvet Rope by Gyom. 
    Panic Button is created in partnership with Oklahoma Appleseed Center for Law and Justice and Leslie Briggs. Follow OK Appleseed on Twitter and Instagram at @ok_appleseed.
    If you want to continue the conversation with other listeners, please join our Panic Button podcast community on Bookclubz at bit.ly/3NRHO8C.

    • 57 min

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5
174 Ratings

174 Ratings

photoshoppingme ,

Riveting!

Absolutely unbelievable ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

Justhappymommy ,

Compelling and well done

Listen to the first apisode and you will be invested in this case. This podcast is so well done. The attorneys are extremely intelligent and invested. They clearly explain the gravity of this case. As a 3rd generation Tulsan the details and description of Tulsa was on point. I’m thankful that a podcast like this exists. Understanding the history of the law, how the legal process works and explaining the side of an abused woman. Listen to it you won’t regret it.

Courtney Aston Yell ,

Great listen

Been following Aprils case for some time and these ladies do a great job giving the facts and details.

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