In an exclusive interview, Atlanta mom Victoria Rickman talked to Crime Watch Daily from behind bars after shooting and killing her ex-fiancé.
Was it murder -- or was her life in danger?
It's judgment day for Victoria Rickman.
A jury is about to declare whether Victoria is a cold-blooded femme fatale who allegedly lured her lover into a death trap. Or is she a terrified victim who shot him nine times in self-defense after he allegedly attacked and raped her in a frenzied rage?
Now the moment of truth.
Crime Watch Daily has been covering this sensational murder case from day one. Now we bring you the latest and probably last chapter in the saga of a beautiful divorcee who was literally drop-dead sexy.
Prosecutors alleged Victoria knew she could use her allure to wrap male admirers around her little finger. But Victoria told Crime Watch Daily in a telephone interview from jail while awaiting trial that her sex appeal has sometimes been a double-edged sword.
"I've never really been in trouble. The only thing that I am definitely would say have problems with is being a battered woman and not making very good decisions with men," she said.
Victoria Rickman's first marriage ended in a contentious divorce, rife with accusations of abuse on both sides. But something good did come of it: a son, who friends and family say meant the world to Victoria.
"She's a good person, she's a good mother," said Victoria's father Paul Rickman.
"Her son is her everything," said Victoria's friend Britni Morgan. "Would even get outside, you know, play football, getting dirty with him, you know, everything."
"She's got a heart of gold, and she would help anybody she could help," said Paul Rickman.
A few years after her divorce, Victoria began a tumultuous romance with William Carter, a successful businessman and divorced father of one. Victoria alleges that Carter could be abusive.
"I think I made excuses for him every time he did something wrong," Victoria tells Crime Watch Daily. "He always said he was sorry, or he begged me for forgiveness, said he'd go to therapy."
"I just believe that she was just caught up in this toxic relationship. She couldn't get out of it, unfortunately," said Britni Moran.
Over the course of a rocky three-year relationship, Victoria and William Carter racked up a laundry list of police reports against each other, ranging from domestic disputes to assault, even sexual battery.
"This person mentally, physically and sexually abused me for years," said Victoria.
"She finally started showing me bruises and stuff on her, and I told her, I said 'You need to document this because if something happens to you, no one is gonna know,'" said Britni.
"I look in it back now and I'm like, 'How could I have been so stupid,' you know, 'How could I have been so forgiving?' Like, what's wrong with me to like make me go back to that?" said Victoria.
Crime Watch Daily requested interviews with the police and the Carter family to get the other side of the story, but each declined to comment. Police reports though indicate allegations of violence on both sides.
"Just breaks your heart for the fact, you know, what maybe she's had to go through a lot of things that you wish she didn't," said Paul Rickman.
And finally, on September 13, 2013, William and Victoria reached a breaking point.
"That day of September the 13th, she had had enough," said Britni Morgan.
At 2:30 a.m., Victoria makes a distraught call to 911.
Rickman: "He tried to rape me again and I tried to ask him to stop and I shot him."
911 Operator: "You shot him?"
Rickman: "Yes, yes. I shot him and I just kept shooting and shooting and shooting and shooting."
911 Operator: "You shot him where?"
Rickman: "I shot him all over. I didn't want to hurt him, but he wouldn't stop."
Police arrive at Victoria's Atlanta home to find a bloodbath, with William Carter naked and dead on the bed, his body riddled with bullets, blood splattered everywhere, bullet holes in the ceiling, walls, and window. Shell casings complete the picture: nine shots fired from a .40-caliber handgun found on a bedside table.
Victoria Rickman told Crime Watch Daily it was a case of self-defense, that William Carter had raped her.
"I don't think I've ever been a hundred percent in fear of my life until that night, and you know, I knew I was gonna die," Victoria tells Crime Watch Daily.
Her best friend Britni Morgan believes her.
"That day, it was either her or him. I believe that with all my heart, because there's no way in the world that she would do that unless it was her life or his life," said Britni.
But Victoria's father Paul can't believe she could even get into such a mess.
"Having known that she had been physically abused by him, I was shocked completely to even find out that he was there or that anything had happened," said Paul.
After completing a rape kit at a local hospital, Victoria faces interrogation from detectives.
Detective: "So you're saying you're willing to speak with me without an attorney present today?"
Rickman: "I'll speak with you about some of the things, yes. I don't have a problem with that. I don't feel like it that I did anything wrong."
Victoria tells detectives it's not the first time Carter's raped and abused her.
Rickman: "He has been very abusive and he has beaten and raped me quite a few times and gotten off every time."
Now she doesn't want to say anything more before contacting an attorney.
Detective: "So I cannot ask you any questions. I really can't speak to you at this point in time."
But Victoria is checked for bruises or injuries.
Detective: "You can go ahead and just lift your shirt up so we can see your stomach."
Rickman: "I don't think I have anything."
Then an ugly argument erupts over Victoria's cellphone.
Detective: "Pass your phone. Give me your phone."
Rickman: "OK, I will."
Detective: "Ma'am! Why are you fighting with me?"
Rickman: "Because you're grabbing stuff out of my hand. That's inappropriate."
Detective: "Because it's evidence."
Within hours of her detention, Victoria receives the bad news.
Detective: "You're being charged with murder."
Rickman: "I'm being charged with murder?"
Victoria Rickman doesn't dispute that she shot and killed her ex-fiancé. She says she had no choice -- it was either her life or his. But would the jury believe her?
Victoria Rickman goes on trial for the murder of her lover William Carter. After spending nearly four years behind bars awaiting her day in court, Victoria, now 34, is almost unrecognizable as the woman who allegedly used her sex appeal to seduce and manipulate Carter and other men in her life.
Among those men, Jeremy Fordham, who at first denies in court that the merry divorcee had once sent him pictures of her breasts. But prosecutor Sheila Ross shows them to him.
Even Cobb County Police Lieutenant Robby Ray admits on the stand that he'd been beguiled by Victoria, and that they had a flirtatious text exchange after he'd helped her with a legal matter.
Prosecution: "And then you said?"
Robby Ray: "'And you won't need to service me for a little help.'"
Prosecution: "And what was that in reference to?"
Robby Ray: "She stated that William Carter expected her to service him."
And the prosecution alleges that Victoria had used her feminine wiles to lure William Carter to her Atlanta home the night she shot him dead.
"She may have promised him sex. We'll never know. There are some things about a homicide you'll never know. Because as they say, 'Dead men tell no tales,'" said Fulton County Prosecutor Sheila Ross.
But Ross says the evidence does, and that nine gunshots is a classic case of overkill.
"And when he falls down she finishes him off from behind and the final shot is to his head," Ross said in court.
Defense attorney Amanda Clark Palmer argues that Victoria Rickman killed William Carter in self-defense after he unexpectedly turned up at her home and raped her in the early hours of the morning.
"Will Carter is on top of Victoria Rickman, raping her, and she gets the gun out and hits him," Palmer said in court.
Before firing nine bullets into him. And Palmer plays Victoria's emotional 911 call for the jury. She says Victoria's distress sounds convincingly genuine.
"Imagine how powerless she felt when William Carter, who was taller than her, heavier than her, and stronger than her, was raping her," Palmer said in court.
But the prosecution alleges Victoria had also accused numerous men of rape, and threatened to make the same allegations against others, including William Plunkett, a former roommate of Victoria's, when he tried to throw her out of his apartment.
"She told me that if I called the police officers, she would tell them that I tried to beat her and tried to rape her," Plunkett testified.
And the prosecution alleges Victoria had also falsely claimed William raped her on a previous occasion, just four months before she killed him.
Then the prosecution drops a bombshell: Video of the incident shot by Victoria herself with her cellphone. It shows her trying to get back inside William Carter's home just moments after she says he raped her.
"Get the [----] out of here. Seriously? Go! I don't want to do anything but get you out of here."
"Why are you naked? Who are you on the phone with?"
"We know one thing for sure, he wasn't naked because he raped her because why would she have to ask that question?" said prosecutor Sheila Ross.
The prosecution shows the rest of the 60-second video, saying it doesn't look like an encounter between a woman and a man who just raped her.
"You just showed up at my [----] house and I told you not to be here."
"I did not. You told me to come here."
"No, Tory, I didn't tell you to be here. Get the [----] out of here. I'm scared of you. You terrify me. You're already doing this. Get out of here."
"Why are you acting like this?"
Victoria refuses to leave.
"Right now, open the door. All my [----] is upstairs."
"No it's not. There's nothing upstairs. All you are is a toxic web of lies. Stop it. Get off of me."
"I'm not letting you in my house. I'm gonna call the [----] police."
The prosecution claims the truth of what really happened is in the tape.
"They were in a fight, she got mad and when he managed to kick her out of the house and he called the police, she cried rape. And it's chilling and it's disgusting. It's damaging to women. But that's what she did," said Ross.
The prosecution uses the video to further discredit Victoria's claim that Carter also raped her the night she shot him.
"That's one of the things you heard from the beginning from Will's mouth himself: 'You are a toxic web of lies.' And I could not have said it better myself. And I submit to you that Will Carter Junior himself is still in the web. He never got out. He was in the web when she murdered him. He's still in the web because she sent him to his grave as a rapist. She said he was a rapist," said Ross.
The prosecution also produces photographs taken after the alleged rape, saying they show no sign of bruises or other injuries indicating Victoria had been beaten and raped, as she claims.
"That's what the doctor said, that's what the treating physician said that night," said Ross.
But the defense puts Victoria's friend Britni Morgan on the stand to support allegations that Carter had physically abused her in the past.
"It looked like someone had grabbed her arm where the bruising was. It was kind of almost looked like fingerprints on the side," Morgan testified.
Britni Morgan testifies she'd seen bruises on Victoria's arm on two occasions. Britni says the second time was just before Carter's killing, when she also overheard an angry phone call Victoria got from him.
"He was very angry and just yelling and screaming. I could hear bits and pieces of the conversation 'cause he was screaming so loudly," said Morgan.
"What was Ms. Rickman's demeanor after that?"
"It completely changed. Her whole attitude, her facial expressions changed. It's like she'd seen a ghost," Morgan said.
The defense argues that Carter had gone to Victoria's home in a jealous rage after earlier catching her talking to another man on the phone.
"He is angry at her. That's how he was feeling that night. He was lashing out at her," Palmer said in court.
Amanda Clark Palmer quotes furious texts William Carter had sent Victoria just hours before his death.
"'You're sad, scary, and a horrible [----] person, who I try and continue to try to love and respect, but it's [----] impossible. You're vicious and horrible to me and all you want to do is blame me,'" said Palmer.
And the defense presents crime scene evidence supporting Victoria's claim that Carter came to her home and violently raped her.
"There are signs of a struggle in this bedroom. The lamp is knocked over, the noise machine is knocked off the night stand and it was on," said Palmer.
A jury is about to declare whether Victoria Rickman really did kill William Carter in self-defense as she claims, or if it was calculated cold-blooded murder, as the prosecution alleges.
The jury had been asked to decide if William Carter had been raping Victoria Rickman at the time she unloaded her gun on him, leaving him lying dead in her bedroom from nine bullet wounds; or if the seductive divorcee had lured him to her home and falsely cried rape to try to get away with murder.
"Victoria Rickman is presumed innocent and that can only be overcome if the state meets their burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt, which they have not done in this case," said Palmer.
The prosecution claims otherwise.
"She finished him off with a shot to the head. That is cold-blooded murder. No more, no less, and if that's all you heard, you would have enough to convict her," said Ross.
Now as the moment of truth arrives, Victoria looks terrified sitting beside her attorney. Her family is also there. All of them anxiously waiting for the words to be read that will either set her free or condemn her to a life behind bars.
"We the jury find the defendant, Victoria Rickman, guilty."
Victoria Rickman sits silently, not moving, but obviously devastated, and sobbing after being convicted of malice and felony murder, as well as two associated charges in the killing of William Carter, then being sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
"I strongly believe with all due respect to the jury, that they got it wrong," said Rickman's defense attorney Amanda Clark Palmer.
Palmer says she was shocked by the verdict.
"I would like to know what evidence they looked at, what they found compelling, what they didn't," said Palmer. "I really don't know why the jury decided the verdict the way they did."
She also wishes the judge had been more lenient.
"I thought she deserved at least the chance to have the possibility of parole, so I was saddened by the sentence," said Palmer.
In an exclusive phone interview from prison, an angry Victoria slams the jury decision and the justice system.
"It's a complete slap in the face to me as a domestic violence survivor and a disgrace to all battered women, sexual assault and domestic violence victims that now this system can actually use my case as a tool to re-violate the real victims and their rights," Victoria tells Crime Watch Daily.
Victoria insists she's no murdering seductress.
"There are no words to describe how it feels to be labeled as something you're not," said Victoria. "All the slander and lies about me is beyond devastating. This entire botched case was solely based on fabricated assumptions created for fame and publicity by defaming my character, maliciously spinning anything, everything into something it wasn't."
Victoria also takes aim at the jury that convicted her and the judge who sentenced her to life without parole.
"I've always told the truth of the abuse I've endured. My story's never changed," Victoria said. "I think they didn't take anything into consideration or put themselves in my shoes even."
And Victoria says she's fighting for a new trial.
"I am innocent of all my charges against me," said Victoria. "I've always told the truth of the sexual, emotional and physical abuse that I had suffered at the hands of William Carter."
Victoria Rickman's lawyer has already filed a motion for a new trial. The judge has not yet made a decision.