Find the original document here.

OCR file:

State of Oklahoma’s motion for an extension of time to respond 2022:


BONUS EPISODE: Panic Button: The April Wilkens Case

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BONUS EPISODE: Panic Button: The April Wilkens Case

2022 Post Conviction Relief Application and Exhibits and Petitioner’s Motion for Recusal and New Venue with OCR to make documents text-searchable (using Ctrl + F)

2022 Application for Post conviction relief PCR

2022 Exhbits for PCR

2022 Petitioner’s motion for recusal and for a new venue

2022 Post Conviction Relief Application and Exhibits and Petitioner’s Motion for Recusal and New Venue with OCR to make documents text-searchable (using Ctrl + F)

Happened last night: Channel 8 story by Brenna Rose about April Wilkens

Happened last night: Channel 8 story by Brenna Rose about April Wilkens

Episode 1 of Panic Button: The April Wilkens Case podcast is out now!

Listen here | Learn more

Episode 1 of Panic Button: The April Wilkens Case podcast is out now!

A new podcast about April Wilkens is launching called “Panic Button: The April Wilkens Case”

A new podcast about April Wilkens is launching called “Panic Button: The April Wilkens Case”

Issues with April’s 2022 Parole Investigative Report

Linked here is the 2022 Parole Investigative Report by Brittany King and April Wilkens’s responses to the PAROLE INTERVIEW QUESTIONNAIRE used to make the report. Below is April’s list of issues she found with the DA’s version included in the 2022 report (copied and pasted from an emessage to us, with light editing). The PDFs have OCR.

The main issues she focuses on are:

  • Blatant falsehoods from the DA
  • The substance abuse history is wrong and does not match her questionnaire answers she submitted (surely a mistake by the PI Investigator)
  • She had never been diagnosed with bipolar, borderline personality disorder, or substance abuse disorder before Terry. And the bipolar and borderline personality diagnoses are ill-informed and wrong. Lynda Driskell diagnosed April with PTSD instead, which is spot-on because she is actually an expert. April has not taken psych medication since just after the turn of the century, when she was only taking an antidepressant for depression. The prison has had her classified (as shown in the report) as having NO mental health issues for many years now.
  • You cannot “escape” from 12&12, it is out-patient only and you are free to leave whenever you like.

Continue reading “Issues with April’s 2022 Parole Investigative Report”

Issues with April’s 2022 Parole Investigative Report

Parole Investigator response letter to April Wilkens about why the Pardon and Parole Board denied her a 2022 parole hearing:

PI response letter

Parole Investigator's response about OK pardon and Parole Board The response from the Parole Investigator (who recommended she move forward with parole to the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board) for why April was denied a parole hearing in 2022 this year reads thus:

“The Board is not obligated to provide a reason for denial as they did not provide a reason for years 2013, 2016, and 2019. A reason for denial was provided for 2022 as ‘A’: ‘The aggravating factors associated with the original crime, INCLUDING ANY DA OR VICTIM PROTEST, currently outweigh any mitigating factors in support of parole at this time.'” (emphasis added) Response dated 4/7/2022. I asked in writing instead of in person so that I have documentation.”

The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board chose from a form list of responses.

To read the protest letter Tulsa DA Steve Kunzweiler’s office sent to the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board see this link.

To learn about past cases like April’s, and where April’s falls within them, see this link.

If you would like a brief update on the current status of April’s case, see this link which contains a link to a petition currently at over 500+ signatures. 

Parole Investigator response letter to April Wilkens about why the Pardon and Parole Board denied her a 2022 parole hearing:

Past cases regarding Battered Woman Syndrome and domestic violence that show April has not been treated fairly by the state:

This post may be updated as more information is learned.
Though the Tulsa World in 1999 claimed that April Wilkens’s defense, battered woman syndrome, was “fairly new and virtually untested in Oklahoma courts,” there were a few examples before her Case, leading us to believe that her trial was unjust, her representation during trial was poor, her conviction was unfair, and that she faced and still faces corruption at getting her conviction overturned.

1895, Donna Bechtel of Oklahoma city killed husband to “stop years of abuse.” See this article and next case.

May 1992. Trail of Venus Lynn Zavinski for killing Donald Joe Haynes. ‘Zaviski’s case is believed to be the first in Oklahoma in which a court has allowed expert testimony and evidence concerning Battered Woman Syndrome, which was described by Dr. Lenore Walker as a “collection of psychological symptoms” that occurs when a woman lives with abuse.’ From The Oklahoman. The Jury rejected her “battered woman” defense, and “found her guilty of first-degree manslaughter late Friday and recommended she serve 22 years in prison.” From The Oklahoman (conversely, April has served 24 years and counting. The current DA, Steve Kunzweiler, would like to see her held for another 17 years before even being eligible for parole. See Timeline for context of plea deal of 20 years Wilkens did not take). Zavinski passed away in 2020. It is unknown if she was released early. This Oklahoman article mentions her again in 1999. See also this article that talks about how an expert witness was allowed and mentions Donna Bechtel. 

Sep 2, 1992. Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals (“OCCA”) Judge Charles Johnson, who was a longtime friend of Terry Carlton‘s father, Don Carlton, writes the OCCA’s landmark Battered Woman Syndrome (“BWS”) opinion in Bechtel v. State (840 P.2d 1, 1992 OK CR 55) establishing BWS as a valid defense for battered women in Oklahoma. In the opinion overturning domestic violence survivor Donna Lee Bechtel’s first-degree murder conviction and life-sentence, Judge Johnson writes this. He would later deny April’s appeals, even though she was arguing the same thing, and would not recuse himself on some of her appeals.

February 1998. “One example is Lourinda Renee Leggett, a former police officer who shot her husband, James Joseph Leggett, at their rural Blanchard home in February 1998.

Lourinda Leggett told police that she had been a victim of abuse by her husband during their six-month marriage. But she fired her attorney after he told her she should plead guilty to first-degree murder.” From The Oklahoman. 

Leggett was sentenced to 13 years. From The Oklahoman.

March 1998. See also August 11, 2003. “Teresa Vilene Paine claimed she was acting in self-defense two years ago when she shot her husband to death.” From The Oklahoman.

She was granted a new trail due to ineffective representation. From The Oklahoman August 3, 2003 “Court to give woman hearing on new trial.”

1998-1999, April Wilkens kills her abuser Terry Carlton. 1999 trail. See Timeline. 

May 2001. Saundra Kay Medlin convicted of killing her husband and sentenced to only 4 years. In 2002, her conviction is overturned, using Battered Woman Syndrome. See also. 

2002. See previous. August 20, 2002 Mandate and June 27 2002 Accelerated Docket Order.

August 11, 2003. See March 1998. The federal Tenth Circuit United States Court of Appeals rules in Oklahoma domestic violence survivor Teresa Vilene Paine‘s favor. The court’s opinion in Paine v Massie (339 F.3d 1194) reads: “Petitioner, convicted in state court of murder, having exhausted state-court appeals, sought federal habeas relief. The United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma, Tim Leonard J., denied petition. Petitioner appealed. The Court of Appeals, Paul J. Kelly, Jr., Circuit Judge, held that: (1) counsel’s performance in not offering expert testimony on battered woman syndrome (BWS) to support petitioner’s claim of self-defense was deficient, and (2) remand was necessary to determine if petitioner could produce expert willing to testify that she suffered from BWS, to establish prejudice resulting from counsel’s deficient performance….However, her counsel offered no expert testimony regarding the effect of BWS or how such a condition might have affected the objective REASONABLENESS of her subjective fear. Ultimately Ms. Paine was convicted of first degree murder in violation of 21 Okla. Stat. § 701.7 and was sentenced to life imprisonment….Given the OCCA’s extensive focus on the key REASONABLENESS component of a self-defense claim in a BWS case, Bechtel, 840 P.2d at 10-11, counsel’s failure to offer expert BWS testimony to provide context for the jury on the REASONABLENESS of Ms. Paine’s subjective fear amounts to objectively unreasonable performance. Counsel failed to apply Bechtel and failed to recognize its core teaching that expert testimony about how BWS affected [Ms. Paine’s] perceptions of danger, its imminence, what actions were necessary to protect herself and the REASONABLENESS of those perceptions [were] relevant and necessary to prove self-defense….Without expert testimony about how a BWS sufferer views the world, a complete disconnect existed that prevented the jury from assessing the REASONABLENESS of Ms. Paine’s conduct based on the circumstances and from the viewpoint of the defendant, as Oklahoma law requires….Simply put, counsel failed to do something that the OCCA said was necessary to mount an effective self-defense claim given the jury’s likely misconceptions about BWS. In Bechtel, the OCCA established the professional standard in Oklahoma for an attorney representing a battered woman claiming self-defense….” (emphasis added)

Sept. 15, 2006. The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals overturns the conviction of domestic violence survivor Pearl Smith and grants her a new trial. Judge Gary Lumpkin writes the courts opinion and Judge Charles Johnson writes an opinion specially concurring. Judge Lumpkin’s opinion in Smith v State (144 P.3d 159) reads: “In regards to her claims concerning the Battered Woman Syndrome (BWS), Appellant argues counsel’s failure to present the ‘obvious and appropriate defense’ of BWS in light of the evidence supporting such a defense constitutes ineffective assistance of counsel. In support of her argument, Appellant relies on Bechtel v. State, 1992 OK CR 55, 840 P.2d 1, and Paine v. Massie, 339 F.3d 1194, 1201 (10th Cir.2003). In these cases, this Court and the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals said that when an attorney represents a battered woman claiming self-defense, the attorney should put on an expert to explain BWS to the jury….In Paine, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals held that under the circumstances of that case, counsel’s failure to present an expert on BWS to the jury was objectively unreasonable….Without the BWS defense, and proceeding under a ‘generalized self-defense’, Appellant was convicted of the lesser offense of second degree murder. However, if the testimony of a qualified expert was presented to the jury, Appellant might have been acquitted. This clearly establishes a reasonable probability that but for counsel’s unprofessional errors, the result of the proceeding would have been different. Therefore, Appellant’s conviction should be reversed and this case remanded to the district court for a new trial.”

Past cases regarding Battered Woman Syndrome and domestic violence that show April has not been treated fairly by the state:

About that Protest Letter…

Letter from Kunzweiler's officeAs reported earlier this month by VNN, District attorney Steve Kunzweiler, who worked under Tim Harris (see this for why that is a problem), had his office protest April Wilkens’s 2022 parole in a letter. It is, at least partially, why she did not get a parole hearing.

It states that Kunzweiler’s office “believes the sentence imposed by the jury more than 20 years ago is appropriate, Wilkens is still a risk to the public, and Wilkens should not be granted parole for another 17 years” due to the fact that, if she were sentenced today with the same thing, she would not be eligible for parole until she had served 85% of her Life sentence.

However, we would like to note that, if she were tried again today, she likely wouldn’t even get a life sentence for what she did. Another woman, just a year after April killed Terry Carlton, claimed Battered Woman Syndrome too in killing her husband while he slept, got four years and THEN had her conviction overturned.

April’s was one of the first cases in OK to use Battered Woman Syndrome (BWS) as a defense, so there was no real precedent when she used it. What’s more, Tim Harris claimed she “cried r-pe” and convinced the jury that April didn’t suffer from BWS, despite Lynda Driskell, a BWS expert, diagnosing her with it (though Driskell was not used during April’s unjust trial).

What is more, the jury WANTED April to have parole options by now, otherwise she would have been sentenced to Life without Parole. Thus, the DA saying that she shouldn’t be allowed parole undermines what the jury even wanted for April. Why would they have given her the possibility of parole if they wanted it withheld even longer? What would the jury say now, if they knew this was how she was being treated? The jury was not given the option of convicting April of manslaughter, which carries a minimum sentence of four years, or of any offense less than first-degree murder, which carries a minimum sentence of life in prison. The evidence was not sufficient to sustain a first-degree murder conviction, however. The OK Court of Criminal Appeals had previously ruled that juries must be given the option to convict first-degree murder defendants of lesser included offenses such as manslaughter when the evidence warrants, which did not happen at April’s trial. Other defendants’ convictions were overturned by the OCCA for this error, but not April’s. It is extremely rare for any court to fail to adhere to its own precedent, and OCCA Judge Gary Lumpkin remarked in a footnote in the order denying April’s appeal that he disagreed with the OCCA’s failure in April’s case to follow its own precedent. 

So why is April still incarcerated? 

  • Women and drug users were viewed more harshly in the 90s for not fitting into ideal womanhood.
  • April had poor representation during her trial. Key witness were not called in and a tape of Terry Carlton admitting to how he abused her and was the sole perpetrator of violence was never played in court. April had turned the tape over to the police and it was mishandled. Now all that remains are audio clips of it, found online on our platforms and in some news coverage. The DA might have a copy locked in sealed evidence.
  • April killed a very wealthy and connected rich man.
  • Tim Harris was still allowed to protest her attempts to overturn her conviction, despite him being friends and taking campaign money from the Carltons
  • The OCCA Judge Charles Johnson did not recuse himself every time from voting on her appeals, despite being a family friend of the Carltons (before the trial).
  • The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole board in 2022 had no women on it when voting on April’s parole Jacket. It is also bowing to conservative pressure from the Governor and DAs. OK has one of the highest incarceration rates for women.
  • Oklahoma over incarcerates and sentences too harshly.

All of this is backed up with evidence found linked in our timeline.

Pdf copy of the letter. PDF copy of the DA protest letter

This post has been updated after its published date.
About that Protest Letter…