April Wilkens case gets dedicated podcast series

Collaborator: Brittany Harlow
Published: 06/29/2022, 1:56 PM
Edited: 06/29/2022, 2:11 PM

(TULSA, Okla.) Two Oklahoma attorneys have teamed up to finally bring justice to April Wilkens. 

WARNING: This story contains disturbing accounts that may be harmful to some readers.

Wilkens has been serving a life sentence for the last 25 years for killing her wealthy rapist and abuser Terry Carlton, son of the late millionaire Don Carlton of Don Carlton Honda in Tulsa. 

The “Panic Button” podcast is produced by Oklahoma Appleseed executive director Colleen McCarty and civil rights and immigration attorney Leslie Briggs, and named for the panic button Wilkens wore around her neck during the height of Carlton’s terrorism. 


Episode 1 of the new podcast is titled “The Shooting”. Here’s the description: 

Terry Carlton is found shot dead in his basement in Tulsa, Oklahoma. When the police arrive, his long-time on-again-off-again fiancé, 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.

Listen to Episode 1: The Shooting here.

The episode is full of never-heard-before details of the days leading up to Carlton’s shooting, as well as graphic details of the abuse Wilkens endured leading up to the shooting itself.  

The Oklahoma Appleseed Center for Law and Justice opened in March 2022. Their website says it is estimated more than 500 Oklahoma prisoners are serving sentences after defending themselves from injury, rape, or death, and that one of the non-profit’s first policy initiatives in Oklahoma is to address the criminalization of domestic abuse survivors. 

McCarty and Briggs say future episodes will contain more never-before-heard evidence that was not submitted during Wilkens’ trial. 

View the petition to commute April Wilken’s life sentence here. 

Interested in learning more about the April Wilkens case in the meantime? 

Check out VNN’s past April Wilkens coverage: 

Two decades later, a woman sentenced to life for killing her abuser still fights for freedom

#AprilsStory Why didn’t she stay away?

#AprilsStory The Lone Crusaders


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