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.
- 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.
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. April's business had been going through bankruptcy. She'd struggled to show up to work the past few months because of everything that had been happening in her personal life. She was in no position to loan her old high school friend any money. But there was one person that owed April money. If she could get the money from him, she could give it to Carrie. The person who owed April money was Terry Carlton. This is Panic Button, Chapter Three: Hostile State. I'm Colleen McCarty,
Leslie Briggs 01:45
and I'm Leslie Briggs. In this episode, we're detailing the months of December 1997 to the night of the murder on April 28, 1998. It's hard to comprehend the chaos that April's life had become by this point. So there may be some skipping around in this episode because there's just so much that's going on. April had been doing her best to stay away from Terry after what had happened with the guitar neck. She was avoiding his calls, refusing to see him. But ever since April had stopped talking to Terry, unsettling things began happening around her house. April was being stalked. She had a prowler. Prowler was visiting her house multiple nights out of the week. There was often evidence of someone inside the house. At night, April would catch the shadow of a man lurking outside her windows. She even heard someone on the roof a few times. Throughout the fall and early spring, she was reporting the Prowler to the Tulsa police constantly. Curiously, the police would arrive mere moments after the Prowler had run off. April was also having problems with her door locks. Of course April suspects the Prowler was Terry, but the police were never able to catch him. And even though the police never managed to catch the Prowler, April's neighbor, Glinda McCarley, testifies about seeing Terry constantly speeding away from April's home in the spring of 1998. Quote, "It was just uncanny. How, when the police were called, his timing was impeccable. He could be in his car and gone just as they rounded the corner and only on one occasion do I know that they got there before we left." But back to December 1997. April, in her desire to help Carrie, reaches out to Terry about money for her friend's family. Terry agrees to pay April some money he owed her and April would give the money to Carrie. So, Carrie, her husband Alan, and April all go over to Terry's house in early December 1997 to get the money. Once at Terry's house, April notices that he's not looking so good. It looked like he hadn't left the house in a while. He had not been taking care of himself. He had no groceries. He looked like a wreck. In any event, Terry writes April a check and tacts on an additional $2,000. Terry asks April to cash the check and bring him that extra $2,000 in cash. He also gave April his credit card and the keys to his car. He asked her to go to Walmart to get him some things - some groceries, bring him some supplies. Bring back the cash, the credit card, and the car. So April leaves with Carrie and Alan and the three of them cash the check. April gives the rest of the money to Carrie and Alan and keeps the $2,000 for Terry. Then they part ways. Then, as instructed, April goes to Walmart at at first and Louis in Tulsa. As April goes into the Walmart, she actually sees an old high school friend of hers, Shannon Broyles, and that's just classic Tulsa. I mean, everybody knows everybody here. It's a big little city.
Colleen McCarty 04:39
It's actually not clear from the testimony if Shannon saw April heading into the store, or when she was at the checkout. April buys all the items that Terry had requested and heads to the checkout stand. The credit card didn't match April's signature, so the clerk asked to call Terry to make sure April had permission to use the card. April gave the clerk his number and then Terry got on the phone. April testifies the conversation went something like this. Clerk, quote, "Are you allowing a miss April Wilkins to use your card today Mr. Carlton?" Terry, quote, "No." Terry told the clerk "No." Even after he had given April the check to cash, the card to buy groceries and his car to transport everything. Terry tells the clerk to hold April there until he can come get his belongings. Shannon remembered that April seemed scared. To quote Shannon's testimony at trial, quote, "It was in the early morning hours and she - she said she couldn't even talk to me after not seeing me a long time. She couldn't stop and talk to me. Because she had to get out of there. She was afraid. She said she needed to leave. Question. All right. Did she say what she was afraid of? Answer from Shannon. Yes, sir. Question from the attorney. Okay. And what was that please? Answer from Shannon. She was afraid that Terry Carlton, she said, her boyfriend, said his name was going to come up there because he was mad at her for I believe it was using a card and for being gone too long."
Leslie Briggs 06:13
So, Terry shows up at Walmart and who drives him there? The Tulsa police officers walk Terry inside and he stirs up a confrontation. He's belligerently saying she's not supposed to be doing this. Despite the fact that Terry is alleging that April has committed the crimes of credit card fraud and auto theft, he tells the officers he doesn't want to press charges and he just he's going to take her home. So the officers leave, and Terry takes April back to his car and drives her to his house. No one in this situation seems to have thought it was odd that the victim of credit card and auto theft by his crazy ex-girlfriend just takes the thief with him to his car, and the two of them leave together. The police simply take Terry at his word. There's no effort on their part to find out if that his report has been made in good faith or if it's utterly false, which if he had made a false report would be a crime on Terry's part. But no, his word is taken at face value by the police. Now on the car ride home, Terry's mood has shifted wildly. April, looking back now, believes he must have been running out of drugs. He had asked her to make a large cash withdrawal while she was cashing that check for Carrie. And she knew the cash would be used to replenish his stash. Here's April talking about what happened at Walmart.
April Wilkens 07:35
He shows up with the police. All I remember is him telling them you know, "I'll take her . I don't want to press charges. I'll take her in." He probably neglected to tell them hey, I wrote her this $2,000 check -or I mean I - it was more than that. I don't remember how much we got for Carrie off hand right now. And tells them, "You know, I'll take her in." I'm just still kind of stunned by it all. I'm like, "Here is your money. Here's your $2,000. It's right there. You know, you asked me to do this." I remember the $2,000, as I remembered and I and I knew he wanted it for drugs. I was drug money cash, right. So. So we got that. And I remember when I got back to his house, that's when I just took off running, you know? And that's when I locked myself in that upstairs room. And it has a - it's an old house and it has a - you can lock it from the inside or the outside. So he locked me in the room and I had the room locked from the inside. It kind of goes blank from there. And I remember - it's - I don't know how long it was in there and that he - might have to go - I may have testified to it. I don't remember how long I was in there. At some point he tries to get in and he can't because I've got it locked from the inside. And that's when he kicks it - kicks it in and comes in. And that's when he yeah raped me at his house.
Colleen McCarty 09:03
As a small aside April and Shannon's relationship seems to be rekindled after they saw each other in Walmart. April begins to reach out to Shannon and tell her about the terror she's been going through. At one point, Shannon drops by April's house to show it to her boyfriend, a former police officer. Shannon rings April's doorbell but there's no answer. Quote, "April didn't answer the door at that time," end quote, Shannon later testifies. She goes to the back of the house and April tells her to come in through the backyard. Shannon, who lived with April their senior year of high school, knew that April was a neat freak. She was shocked to see the state of April's house. The door to April's bedroom had been kicked in and there was broken glass everywhere. And remember in episode one, when we told you that April called someone from her neighbor's house the night of the murder to ask if she could borrow a guard dog? That was Shannon Shannon had a doberman....
Leslie Briggs 10:02
Let's go back to the aftermath from the Walmart incident. Terry is driving April to his house and April and has a hard time remembering all of the details. But she knows that as soon as she was able to she was running. And she was running up the stairs and into the guest bedroom of Terry's house because it has a lock both a key lock and a deadbolt. And the room could be locked from either the inside or the outside. April is utterly terrified. And she knows that Terry's going to hurt her. And for some time, he has her locked inside the guest room from the outside. As soon as he unlocks it to come in, she locks it from the inside. Here's April at trial, quote, "I remember being locked in the room for a very long time. And then I remember you know, I had locked - I had locked him out. And then he locked me in I guess, and then I was there for quite some time. At some point he beat the door and kicked it in and attacked me. He tried to unlock it to come in and when he saw that I had locked it too, he - so he attacked me." Again, just a quick warning that this portion of the episode details another rape. So if you want to skip ahead, now's the time... So Terry is furious and breaks down the door to his own guestroom. He comes in shoves a valium pill wrapped in bread down April's throat. At trial, April's attorney had introduced photos of the doorframe and the door that Terry had broken down and we'll probably drop those in the show notes if we can get them.
Colleen McCarty 11:41
Terry violently raped April and caused vaginal injuries as well as injuries to her lower back. Her neck was also injured. She was drugged, she blacked out. And the next thing she remembers is waking up in the guest bed completely unable to move. She was terrified thinking that she had been paralyzed. She cried and screamed for Terry to call 911. "Please call 911." Terry must have been alarmed because he actually did call. When they arrived, April tells police that she was raped. Terry told the female officer at the scene that April was just one big bruise. The officers handcuffed Terry. So here we are: a critical moment where things might have gone differently. Terry's in handcuffs for the first time after all of April's reporting to the police. He's going to be taken in and booked for raping April. Finally, the system is going to work for her. Finally, law enforcement have the bad guy. Finally, April is going to get some distance and time between her and Terry and maybe she's going to get away, get help, and get out. Except. That's not what happens. Over the radio comes Sergeant Rick Hellberg and order for this officers to quote Uncuff him and just make a report. Terry is released and the officers do make a report. Officers documented the scene taking pictures of the bedroom and of April's injuries to her chin and neck. They drove her to Hillcrest hospital where she got a SANE exam. SANE stands for Sexual Assault Nurse exam. The exam showed signs of rape and sexual abuse including bruising, redness and a laceration. A female officer from the scene followed after to be with April at Hillcrest and then drove her home. April realized that her purse was still at Terry's. April tells us that she asked the officer, quote, "Can you go get my purse and bring it to me?" end quote. She obviously didn't feel safe going to her rapist's house, understandably. According to April, the female officer refuses. She apparently tells April that she will not go back to Terry's house for her purse because, quote, "Terry creeps her out."
Leslie Briggs 14:06
Later that week, Terry showed up at April's house. April testified at trial quote, "He was very concerned about rape charges being filed and my cooperation. He was very interested that I not cooperate. So he was staying very close to me."
April Wilkens 14:21
And that's when Tim Harris makes a big deal out of "Well you were with him." He came and got me; he had this form on supposed to sign this form that it was not rape, that it was consensual sex and, you know, and like and "I'm not signing this." It wasn't consensual and so he was keeping me with him then till I was signing this form, right? Here we go.
Leslie Briggs 14:41
So Terry intimidates April with a form that he's had drawn up. He wants her to sign it saying that the rape was actually consensual. And until she signed the form, April would not be allowed to leave Terry's sight. Ultimately, April was able to convince Terry that she would not cooperate with authorities and that she would not let the rape case go forward. But she could not get away from Terry. He was coming by he was stealing her mail. We find out later that he was tapping her phones with a small bugging device that he bought at RadioShack.
Colleen McCarty 15:12
Also in the spring of 1998, April begins to spend time with a friend, Luke Draffin. I feel the need to mention that his middle name is Leonidas. Luke Leonidas Draffin. Refined. We heard about him a little bit in episode one, and we may do a bonus episode about him if we have time because he is truly a perplexing engyma in this story. When April is with Luke, Terry leaves her alone. It's been posited that Luke was a criminal informant or an undercover cop. He had connections to an UnderSheriff in Creek County, which is a neighboring county to Tulsa, and he was always packing both guns and drugs. Terry is unusually wary about Luke. When Luke is around, Terry backs off. One might wonder if Luke was supplying Terry with drugs. Despite claiming to be an undercover cop by the time of trial, Luke has been arrested and charged with several felonies. In the spring of 1999, at the same time, April is being tried for shooting Terry, Luke was facing four felony charges: unlawful possession of a controlled substance, possession of a firearm while committing a felony, unlawful possession of paraphernalia, and unlawful possession of marijuana. By the time he testifies at trial in 1999, he's in custody. When he comes to testify, he's been rented over from jail, and he appears in court in handcuffs.
Leslie Briggs 16:42
But back in the spring of 1998, as things progressed with Luke and April starts to feel like she has someone to rely on, Terry's obsession and desire to control April is reaching a fever pitch. April had a set of French doors that open to her backyard from the master bedroom. Terry had broken in through this set of doors numerous times. The doorframe is broken, the locks don't work. April put a bungee cord around the handles on the inside to keep them closed. Then, Terry busted them in so hard that the bungee cord broke and the door handles went flying. She had to stack furniture against the door and boxes of books in hopes that she could sleep without fear of Terry breaking in. Except when he couldn't get in the French doors, he just came bursting in through the front and then April would be trapped. When April's neighbor Glenda McCarley talked to the police, she told them that she would frequently hear Terry's car engine. And, as a reminder, Terry's father owned one of the few Acura car dealerships in Tulsa and so Terry had an Acura NSX that had a unique sound. In any event, Glenda McCarley would frequently hear Terry's car out front of April's house at least five nights a week in the middle of the night. When Terry found out that April was spending time with Luke, he became obsessive and jealous. In the early months of 1998, Terry begins offering Luke money to stay away from April. There's some dispute as we mentioned in episode one as to whether Terry also gave Luke his Harley Davidson motorcycle. April had heard that Luke was riding the motorcycle around town. Regardless, Terry manages to insert himself between Luke and April. The one person April can rely on to keep her physical person safe. We will come to find out that unfortunately, Luke and Terry are more alike than different. Even though Luke was not physically abusive to April he was supplying her with drugs. And, Luke eventually strikes a deal with Terry to stay away from April. Here's how Luke testifies at trial for the state: The district attorney Tim Harris asks, 'Defense counsel asked you why you didn't want to have anything to do with her when she was at the executive Inn on the night of the murder. Could you clarify that? What was it about a person you had seen the one - one time a week for five months that you didn't want to have anything to do with?' Luke answers, "Well, I you know, made the deal with Terry, you know, it was between me and him and it was late at night and I didn't feel like messing with it. You know, I was in bed. I was asleep." Tim Harris says, "the offer for Mr. Carlton to you to stay away. How much were you offered?" Luke testifies "About 5,000."
Colleen McCarty 19:24
It is around this time that April continues to tell Terry she wants to break up. She says she can never be with him because she has a son and Hunter will never be safe with Terry around. Once Terry realizes that it's Hunter standing in the way of them being together, he begins to threaten Hunter and frightened April about the security of her son. She's so afraid that she calls her ex-husband Eric and asks him to file for sole custody. Up until this time, April had been a devoted mother. She didn't even believe in spaking her child. Hunter had lived the majority of his life with April. For her to give up custody was a shock and should have signaled to everyone in her life that something was very wrong.
So she's with Terry, and all of a sudden, I stopped going over to my mom's house for, I don't know, I - I think we skipped two weeks. I didn't say anything. And then the third week, I asked my dad, I was like, the hell are we doing, man? Like, why am I not going over to mom's house? Like, you're pissing me off. I don't want to be over here anymore. She's told me that she kept - she called my dad like, "No, I can't take him right now. Because Terry's is being fucking insane. And we can't have Hunter anywhere near because I think he might hurt him."
Colleen McCarty 20:47
We spoke with a law professor at Wake Forest, who's an expert in criminalized survivorship. Her name is Jane Aiken, and she said that many women will not protect themselves, but a switch flips when they realize their children could be hurt. April told us when we visited that this was true for her. Luke in April of 38 for protection. She remembers having a phone conversation with someone and telling them that even if Terry did break into her house, she would be too effing nice to use the gun on him. But if she did it, it would be justifiable homicide, due to Terry's numerous assaults on her and the fact that he would be entering in her house. Sidenote, April gave up swearing several years ago, so she refused to say the actual f-word when retelling us this conversation. The conversation about her not being able to shoot Terry was recorded on the tapping device that Terry had installed. However, according to Don Carlton's pre-sentencing letter to the court, due to some technical difficulty, Tim Harris was unable to introduce this recording at trial. As Don Carlton, Terry's dad, describes the recording it irrefutably establishes premeditative intent on April's part. Let's stop for a second and consider that proposition. Newly elected district attorney Tim Harris was unable to play evidence that would irrefutably establish an essential element of his case. That is pretty stunning. We've been unable to find that recording it yet but if we do, we'll play it here.
Leslie Briggs 22:28
In early February 1998, Terry comes to April's house, armed with a glock nine millimeter, a billy club, tear gas, and a stun gun. April was in the back of the house and Luke was there. Luke actually lets Terry in the front door. Terry went to the back of the house, into April's bedroom and wanted to talk. When he sat down on one of the chairs April heard a thump. She demanded to know what the thump was. At first Terry refused to tell her but she said the conversation would go no further until she knew what he had in his pocket. Terry pulled out the glock and slid it out the bedroom door before closing it again. At this point April starts calling out to Luke that Terry's in the back, he's got a gun, but there's no answer. April tells Terry he's not to be at her house. She doesn't want to see him. He immediately flies into a rage charging at her with the stun gun. Terry kept saying that April owed him a fuck, and he was going to take it. He rips off her clothes and he has her on the bed threatening her with the stun gun. She's calling out desperately for help. But apparently Luke had walked out when Terry arrived, abandoning April to whatever fate awaited her. April used the only defense that she had that sometimes worked against Terry: words. She said, "If you're going to take your fuck anyway, just back up a minute. Let me relax and get to where I can try to enjoy it." April manages to wiggle out from underneath him as she tries to talk him into stopping. She's able to reach the 38 pistol that Luke had given her, which She's hidden at the head of her bed. Terry is standing up beside the bed at this point and April points the gun at Terry's head. He's enraged and starts to grab the gun. April pulls the trigger but the gun doesn't fire. Terry actually tells April at this time, "I'm God and I am Satan." And April is frankly starting to believe it. Terry is furious, and he attacks April again, then abruptly stops when he hears Luke come back into the house. Terry runs off and flees from April's home. Later after breaking into April's home again Terry steals the gun that Luke has given her. Small reminder at this point. Most legal scholars agree that the law of self defense allows you to use deadly force to protect your life or to protect yourself from being raped. A potential rape victim can use deadly force if she reasonably believes her rapist will cause great bodily injury or death, you can check out 21 OS section 733 to fact check me.
Colleen McCarty 25:06
During this time period April notices that Terry has a police scanner and that anytime she calls police, he is easily able to evade them by listening to their responses on the scanner. On February 21, 1998, the abuse and stalking had culminated to an almost daily terror. Terry had stolen April's keys to her house, the remote to her gate and the garage door opener. Terry called April in the middle of the night, and she said she did not want to see him. "I'm coming over," he spits into the phone and hangs up. April immediately calls 911. Terry pulls into April's driveway and runs up to her side garage door. April can hear him beating on the door with something metal. She's terrified because the last time she saw Terry she'd pointed a gun at him and she knew she wouldn't get away with that. Officer Troy DeWitt of the Tulsa police department pulls in behind Terry's car as he is trying to get in to escape. For the first time since April began calling police after the trip to Rome in 1996, Terry Carlton is arrested and booked in the Tulsa County Jail in the early morning hours of February 21, 1998. Even though stalking was a misdemeanor crime at this point in Oklahoma history, Terry is only booked into the jail for the misdemeanor of transporting a loaded firearm. This is what officer DeWitt wrote in his police report the night he arrested Terry, quote,"On 2-21-98 at 0304 hours, I was radio assigned to 1341 East 35th Street in Tulsa in reference to a domestic with a gun call. Upon arrival, I could hear the suspect, Terry Carlton, yelling behind a large eight-foot fence. As officers approached the residence, I hear a car motor start and a black accurate quickly backed out into the street. Carlton was told to stop and complied. Officials observed a stun gun and part of a Glock pistol that was in a white bag. Officer Anison retrieved the nine millimeter Glock pistol from the passenger side floorboard. And it was chamber loaded and was fully loaded with ammunition. Carlton stated, quote, "I was bringing it" and there's a blank here because it's hard to tell what the officer wrote down on that word. So I'm sorry, but then he keeps going "for her the other day and I just forgot it was there." This residence has a history of domestic violence and threats. Although April Wilkens could not say whether he had threatened her tonight, Wilkens said he had in the past and she felt very threatened. Officers contacted judge Hogshead and an emergency protective order was issued. Carlton was arrested and booked, evidence was turned in on property receipt #A3-2. Before he left officer DeWitt reminded April that even a simple phone call from Terry was a violation of the emergency protective order.
Leslie Briggs 28:13
Officer DeWitt is the only police officer who ever really takes decisive action against Terry Carlton on behalf of April. I know we've been really critical to the police throughout this podcast and I think we have good reason to. But officer DeWitt really is a true hero in this story.
Colleen McCarty 28:29
The next morning, April began receiving phone calls from the Tulsa County Jail. It was Terry, brazenly violating the emergency protective order. April remembered what officer DeWitt said and she called the police again to report the EPO violation. At this time in Oklahoma, someone stalking another person while on a protective order was a felony that could serve up to five years in prison. You can find that at 21 OS 1173, the 1998 version. Still violation of a protective order at all was a felony.
Leslie Briggs 29:07
Officer Aaron Tallman responds to the call. "We just keep expecting to find you dead," he tells April. April shows him the caller ID which shows the Tulsa County Jail and tells officer Tolman about the emergency protective order. Officer Tallman tells April that she's annoying him. He claims that her emergency protective order doesn't say that Terry can't call her. This is of course the opposite of the information that officer DeWitt told her the night before. Nothing is done. And Terry is right back on April's doorstep after he bonds out of jail. April's neighbor, Glenda McCarley testifies about officer Thompson's behavior because she was there to witness it. She describes it as infuriating when he responded to April's 911 call. Here's Geldna McCarley's testimony at trial. Question: "All right, and if you will miss McCarley, tell us what occurred when the police arrived." Miss McCarthy's answer, "Usually, nothing." On the 25th of March 1998, Terry fails to appear in court on his misdemeanor loaded firearm charge. The judge issued a bench warrant for Terry's arrest. And kind of a funny quirk of constitutional law at the time, anytime officers came into contact with Terry, that misdemeanor warrant would have allowed them to arrest him. Except, weirdly, between the hours of 10pm and 6am.
Colleen McCarty 30:30
We have a sight on that it's 22 OS 189 in effect in Oklahoma since 1990. Things are really escalating in the spring of '98. The major episode in the saga starts on April 2, about nine days after Terry's warrant is issued by the court for failing to appear. Terry's just pulled up to April's house. April is running. She runs from 35th N Quincy, west toward Peoria. She crosses Peoria, she's in a church parking lot. She can look across Peoria and see her driveway and see her house and she can see Terry sitting on the road in the street in his car in front of her house. April has absolutely no one else to turn to at this point. Remember, this was before cell phones. And not to mention Terry told April during this time period that he had cut her phone lines. She realized the lines were dead during an altercation with Terry, during which she went to call the police and Terry tells her, "I cut the line. Call them again." Officers later confirmed that her phone lines were indeed cut.
Leslie Briggs 31:44
Also, it's worth noting that around the same time, Terry makes this allegation to April that "It's 500 bucks, baby. That's all it costs to buy a police officer."
Colleen McCarty 31:55
So she's standing there, desperate, in a church parking lot. And she's talking to God. She's asking God to protect her and to please keep her safe. God is her last resort. A small side note here. For those listening who aren't from Oklahoma, we are a reliably Christian state. Oklahoma's religious profile varies markedly from national norms. The state residents identify themselves as Southern Baptist almost seven times more often than other Americans, but Churches of Christ, Methodist, Pentecostal and holiness groups are also much more common in Oklahoma than elsewhere. We also have a high propensity of churches in Oklahoma that encouraged parishioners to pray aloud or even in tongues. Prayer is a powerful medium for change here, and local leaders often asked for prayers when making difficult decisions. I say this to note that talking aloud to God is a common occurrence here. In more religious areas, people often pray over each other aloud before meals, before meetings or before major family functions or difficult conversations.
Leslie Briggs 33:04
And of course, the Supreme Court agrees that this is normal and acceptable and appropriate behavior, even if you're a public school coach. So the religious context here is important because of what happens next. Officer Aaron Tallman Yes, the same Aaron Tallman from before, approaches April in the church parking lot and he witnesses her talking to God. Tallman uses April's behavior as a pretext to search her. In a wrist guard that she wears while rollerblading he finds a syringe. Later at trial when he's testifying. Officer Tollman states that he could have arrested April on a paraphernalia charge even though he could look across Peoria and see Terry parked outside her house waiting for her to return. And I think it's worth reminding everyone that Tallman knew about her history of domestic violence with Terry. He had responded to her house on several occasions, including in February, just two months prior when Terry had violated the emergency protective orde. When Tallman picks April up from the church parking lot. Instead of hitting her with a paraphernalia charge, Officer Tallman calls EOD, which is like a mental health crisis response team. They come out, they check April out, and essentially as I gather from reading the testimony, it's like a paddy wagon that takes April to Parkside Mental Health Institute. So Parkside is an acute mental health facility here in Tulsa. It's around 11th and Utica, about four miles from April's house. So officer Tallman from the Tulsa Police Department had called in what's called a 5150, claiming that April was a danger to herself or to others and he has her involuntarily civilly committed. April was held at Parkside for six days. And during that time, she refuses to let Terry visit her and will not let him attend the civil commitment hearing. On the sixth today, April is able to squirrel the keys to the unit away from the head psychiatric nurse while she's playing Uno. She escapes and heads home. The day she arrives home, she is surprised to find Terry coming in the front door with keys to her house. Terry was armed again with a 38 pistol that Luke had given her. The one that she'd aimed his head back in February. Terry is pissed again. He's upset that she wouldn't let him see her at Parkside and that he wasn't allowed to come to the commitment hearing. Terry's narrative now is that April is sick. And Terry is the only one standing by her to make sure that she's okay. He's telling her friends to call him to check on her. April finds this out later when she would occasionally answer the phone at his house, including on the morning of the shooting, to find her childhood friends on the other side of the line.
Colleen McCarty 35:49
Terry takes April to his house at gunpoint with a 38 he holds her hostage there. We don't have a lot of detail about what happened while Terry was keeping April as a prisoner during this time. We know she could not leave and that he was repeatedly attacking her. She remembers him attacking her on the kitchen floor and attempting to rape her again. Then Terry moves her to the basement and thrusts her onto the couch. Continuing to say he wants to take that buck that she owes him. There was something sharp on the couch - she refers to it as an icepick or a guitar piece. Something that had a sharp end. She landed on it and it stabbed her in the left buttock. April screamed and got up. In the tussle, the remote to the television must have gotten pressed because the TV turns on by itself. Terry is very freaked out by this. Small aside if your people you know use drugs this will sound a lot like the behavior of addicts. April describes Terry as deranged during this time, seeing things that weren't there, somewhat fading in and out of reality. April knows that he told her he was going to take his fuck and then slit her throat and kill himself. While Terry's distracted by the TV coming on, April runs upstairs and puts three of the guns in a black bag. She carries the bag outside and runs across the street to Terry's neighbor, Dr. Laughlin's house. She gets there. And Dr. Dr. Laughlin's wife is home but Dr. Laughlin is not. And she asks Dr. Dr. Laughlin's wife to please help her find the number for Domestic Violence Intervention Services here in Tulsa. She refuses to call the police because of how they had reacted in the past and she was scared that she would get taken back to Parkside. She called Domestic Violence Intervention Services and tells the operator that Terry is suicidal. She was worried he was going to hurt himself or someone else. Because a threat to someone's life is alleged the DV operator had to send the police. When they arrive, they don't just take Terry to Parkside for being suicidal. They take both Terry and April to Parkside and they civilly commit both of them for being dangerous to themselves and others. Terry was released a few hours later, but they hold April at Parkside until April 23.
Leslie Briggs 38:12
On April 23, April is transferred to Eastern State Hospital. This is where she meets a true hero in this story, nurse Betty Cantrell. Betty Cantrell seems to be the first person that April encounters in the mental health system, who doesn't believe she is a danger or psychotic but that she's afraid and suffering from PTSD. What happens at Eastern State is truly a trip. Terry has previously indicated to April that he's the one who had her committed at Parkside, and he's the one who had her committed at Eastern State. We're going to call it ESH for short. Her first call when she gets to ESH is to Terry. She's pleading with him to make them let her go. She truly believes at this point, he's pulling the strings and having hospital staff hold her there so he can teach her a lesson. April stays at ESH from April 23 until the 26th. And during those three days, Carrie tries to visit her three times. Venita is a 45 minute drive from Tulsa and that's where Eastern State is located. April rejects his visits the first two times. On the third time, she lets him come in, and he is absolutely insistent that he sees her. But first let's talk about how he shows up. He arrives in a brand new red Acura with balloons tied to it. He's saying it's her birthday present. He's offering this gift, but only if April will come clean with him about if she's fallen in love with someone else.
Colleen McCarty 39:44
Here's April testifying about this. Quote, "He had been pressuring me. I had, excuse me, I could not have visitors at Parkside. So there was relief there. But he did come see me at Eastern State. I was reluctant to see him but when I did, he began to pressure me into saying I was in love with someone else. And I had told him all along that my feelings for him were independent of my feelings for anyone else. And I didn't want to hurt his feelings. And I didn't want to aggravate him because I - And finally on Sunday, he was very insistent in front of a group of people and also several nurses, he had to have an answer. And I had not said anything to him. And finally, I said - I hadn't said this to him before, because I did not want to hurt his feelings. And I did not want to endanger anyone else. And because I did not want to endanger myself more. And that was I finally said, Okay, I'm in love with someone else, you know? If that's what you need to hear to understand that we're not going to be together." Question, "Was there really someone else?" Answer, "I cared about Luke. I don't know if I was in love with him. But I would never say like I said, Luke, or no, Luke. I was not going to be with Terry. I just wasn't."
Leslie Briggs 41:07
And here's the testimony of the ESH nurse Betty Cantrell, talking about the time that Terry visited April on Sunday afternoon, April 26, 1998, two days before the shooting. Question, "What if anything, did he say or do when he walked up?" Answer from Betty Cantrell, "He asked - told, more - basically told her to come out to the car. He wanted to talk to her. And she kind of nudged me and I said, I'm sorry. She can't go out to the car." Question, "Okay, when you say that he more or less told her to come out to the car. Describe for the court and jury what you observed." And here's nurse Cantrell again. "He was very I mean, he was, he was like a hostile state. He said, 'I want to talk to you privately. I want to talk to you now.' And I said, 'I'm sorry, she cannot go to the car.' And he kept on at her. And I said, 'You can sit right here on this bench with us and talk to her. But I'm sorry, she cannot leave here.'" Question, "What was April's reaction?" Answer, Nurse Cantrell testifies. "She didn't say anything against me telling her to sit down. She sat down. Never had no, she just said, Thank you. That was all she ever said." Question, "How long did this go on?" Answer, "I would say we probably sit there for a good 10 to 15 minutes, maybe?" Question, "All right. And what was Mr. Carlton doing during this period of time?" and nurse Cantrell testifies, "He had cursed at her several different times, telling her that he wanted to talk to her away from where he could talk to her personally. And privately. He did not want anybody present. And every time he would say it, he would kind of curse at her. I tell him no, I'm sorry. She can't." Question "When you say he cursed at her. Do you recall specifically what he said?" Here's nurse Cantrell. "He said at one point, he said, listen, goddamnit I said, I want to talk to you privately. I don't want out in front of everybody else. And I again cautioned him, you know, that she's not going." Question, "All right, what ultimately transpired?" "He started to walk away. And it's an area that from the back of the building where we were sitting, I would say it's farther from here to that wall. It's a little farther than that to the parking area where his car was parked. And at one point, she told me, when he started to walk off, she said, I'm sure glad you didn't let me go with him. And I said, 'Well, why why would you? You know,' I said, 'you can't take off, you know, you got to try to get things taken care of.' She said, 'I understand that. But she said he usually carries a gun with him all the time.' And I said, 'You're not going down to that car.'" So small. Sidenote here after this testimony, Tim Harris, the district attorney asks for a conference at the bench and accuses April's defense of violating the Allen Rule. Colleen, do you want to give us a quick synopsis of the Allen Rule?
Colleen McCarty 44:07
An Allen hearing happens when one side of a case doesn't disclose everything that they have in discovery and when district attorney Tim Harris accuses April's defense attorney, Chris Lyons, of an Allen violation, he's essentially saying that Chris Lyons knew he was going to introduce this fact about the gun, and he withheld it intentionally and that it's an Allen violation.
Leslie Briggs 44:32
Thank you. Harris is very upset about the comment about Terry carrying a gun. Apparently he was never notified by the defense that Betty Cantrell would testify about Terry carrying a gun. Harris is reportedly livid and would like the court to admonish the defense because he finds the fact that Terry carried a firearm to ESH, extremely prejudicial to his case.
Colleen McCarty 45:07
So to close out today's episode, ESH kept April for one more day until Monday, April 27, 1998. They determined she was primarily in need of substance use treatment and that she could seek that help in the community. They sent her to 12 & 12 in Tulsa in a van. As we know from episode one, she ran away from that program and hitchhiked home, which began the final hours of her life before everything changed. Next week on Panic Button, we'll talk about the arrest, the confession, the year April spends in jail. And we'll come through highlights of the lawyers selecting the jury, or as we say in Oklahoma, voir dire. Panic Button is a co-production with Oklahoma Appleseed Center for Law and Justice and Leslie Briggs. We're your hosts, Colleen McCarty and
Leslie Briggs 46:04
Colleen McCarty 46:05
Our theme music is Velvet Rope by Guillaume. The production team, Leslie Briggs and Rusty Rowe. We're recorded at Bison and Bean studio in Tulsa. Special thanks to Lynn Worely, Amanda Ross, and Ashlynn Faulkner for their work on this case. If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, use a safe computer and contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at thehotline.org or call 1-800-799-7233. Help others find our show by leaving us a rating and writing a review. Follow us at OK_Appleseed across all social platforms. You can subscribe right now in the Apple podcasts app by clicking on our podcast logo and then clicking the subscribe button. If you want to continue the conversation with other listeners, please join our panic button podcast community on Book Clubs. Join for free at Bit.ly/3NRHO8C. Thank you so much for listening.
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