Commute the Life Sentence of Abuse Survivor April Wilkens

Commute the Life Sentence of Abuse Survivor April Wilkens

March 10, 2022
Petition to
Oklahoma Pardon & Parole Board, and
Signatures: 2,327Next Goal: 2,500
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Why this petition matters

Nearly 24 years ago, April Wilkens killed her rapist and documented abuser, the son of a Tulsa millionaire. Despite numerous protective orders, no one would help Wilkens escape the cycle of his abuse. Her abuser terrorized her for two months straight and was even arrested outside of her house with a loaded gun.

Instead of protecting her, police took Wilkens to a mental institution.

“I know for a fact that someone is trying to hurt me and hurt my child and my life is in danger and my child’s life is in danger,” April Wilkens told VNN. “He told me that he had the police take me to a mental institution so that it would teach me that he was the only person that cared about me.”

Full story here:

Wilkens killed her abuser during his final attack, less than 48 hours after she was released from the mental institution.

She was charged with murder. A jury sentenced her to life with parole.

On March 7, 2022, the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board denied her request for a parole hearing, despite being granted parole hearings the last two times she was eligible.

Please help April in her fight for freedom. Below is a list of some of the issues with her case  and why she should be given her life back: 

  •  April Wilkens survived many incidents of long-term abuse while in a relationship with her abuser. After breaking it off with him, his violence escalated including rape, assault, breaking into her home, kidnapping at gunpoint, stalking, and revenge porn blackmail. 
  • April did not receive sufficient protection from police, saying they actually joked that they kept expecting to find her dead. Police did not enforce a warrant for her abuser’s arrest relating to the gun charge he caught outside of April’s house, despite encountering him numerous times before he was killed.

  • Pre-trial, the DA offered a plea deal of 20 years that April did not take, thinking she would not be convicted. This shows that the state and abuser’s family does not think she is a threat. (April has served 24 years). On the deal, she could have even gotten out early on good behavior. During sentencing the state went against its own laws and did not present the jury with the option of manslaughter which carries as little as 4 years with good behavior. 
  • During her trial, then-District Attorney Tim Harris said she cried rape. But a physical examination from a SANE nurse the day after she killed her abuser proved she had sustained physical damage to her
    body including her genitals from her abuser’s attack.
  • During her trial, April's public defender did not present crucial evidence including an audio recording of her abuser admitting to raping and assaulting her.
  • During sentencing the state went against its own laws and did not present the jury with the option of manslaughter, which carries as little as 4 years with good behavior.
  • April suffered from Battered Woman Syndrome but the expert witness who diagnosed her, her counselor, was not used during trial. 
  • Other important mistakes were made in the proceedings, as outlined in this timeline with hyperlinked supporting documents.
  • The judge on the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals, Judge Charles Johnson, was a long-time friend of the abuser’s family. Though he recused himself in her first appeal, showing he admitted his bias, he did not for her others, including the denial of her final application for post-conviction relief.
  • After the trial, the DA Tim Harris who prosecuted her took money from the abuser’s family when running for re-election and became “friends.” This affected her efforts to overturn her conviction, as Harris was still allowed to protest and argue against her efforts,
    despite her attempts to disqualify him.
  • April has been recommended for parole numerous times including in 2013, 2016, 2019, and now in 2022. 
  • As of March 2022, April was denied parole for the fourth time by an all-male Pardon and Parole Board. April’s most recent request for parole was denied before even being granted a hearing. Her only other option is having her sentence commuted.

April’s only chance of freedom is having her sentence commuted. Women in Oklahoma who suffer from domestic violence relationships should not have to choose between being killed or serving life in prison.

While incarcerated, April has been a model inmate. She is not a danger to society and it is an injustice to all battered women to keep her locked up.

If granted commutation by the Oklahoma Pardon & Parole Board, the Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt will have the final say in her freedom.

Please tell the Oklahoma Pardon & Parole Board and Governor Kevin Stitt to commute April’s sentence. This was a traumatized and brutalized woman who should never have been sentenced for a murder charge to begin with.

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Signatures: 2,327Next Goal: 2,500
Support now