Victoria Rickman (entering courtroom) was denied bond Friday, Oct. 4, 2013 by Judge Courtney L. Johnson in DeKalb County Superior Court in Decatur.
Photo: John Spink / AJC
Photo: John Spink / AJC

Malice murder:  Jury convicts woman who claimed self-defense

She claimed she shot and killed her ex-boyfriend in self-defense while he assaulted her. But a DeKalb County jury didn’t believe Victoria Rickman, and instead convicted her of malice murder. 

It took the jury less than two hours Friday to convict Rickman, who shot and killed Will Carter on Sept. 13, 2013. Closing arguments in Rickman’s murder trial ended late in the afternoon Friday, and by 6:30 p.m. the jury had reached its verdict. 

Prosecutors argued Rickman killed Carter after he refused to drop a previous battery charge against her. They said the shooting did not occur during an assault. 

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“If you want to know what malice murder looks like, this is what it looks like,” prosecutor Sheila Ross told the jury. “When she shot him that night, she intended to do it.”

Rickman claimed Carter attacked, then raped her, so she grabbed a gun from a nightstand and shot him. Carter, who had an 8-year-old daughter at the time, was weeks away from his 31st birthday.

“What we have here is premeditated, cold-blooded murder,” Ross said.

Victoria Rickman and William James Carter Jr.

Photo: � 2017 Cox Media Group.

But it was Carter who controlled Rickman, defense attorney Amanda Clark Palmer argued, and he was physically and verbally abusive.

“Who is in control in this relationship? The answer is Will Carter,” Palmer said. “He forced himself on her and he controlled her, and she let him do it.”

Testimony during the two-week trial revealed a tumultuous relationship between Rickman and Carter that included arrests, allegations and threats. In the months before Carter was killed, both he and Rickman were arrested in separate incidents in Cobb County. Defense attorneys contend Carter was angry and lashed out at Rickman the same day she shot him.

In a tearful 911 call played in court, Rickman said Carter had raped her, so she shot him.

“I just kept shooting and shooting and shooting and shooting,” Rickman told the 911 operator.

Carter was shot nine or 10 times, according to crime scene investigators. But attorneys for the state and Rickman disagree on where she shot him first. Prosecutors contend Carter was first shot in the back, but Palmer said that wasn’t the case.

“Will Carter was on top of Victoria Rickman raping her when she shot him,” Palmer said. “That’s what happened that night. She was defending herself.”

After shooting him, Rickman deleted text messages she and Carter had exchanged, according to prosecutors. At the hospital, she was given pain medication, but did not have visible injuries, Ross said.

Prosecutors contend there was no sexual assault and Rickman’s first three shots were to Carter’s back.

“She never missed, which means she intended to kill him,” Ross said. “She shot an unarmed man in the back.”

Sentencing will be held at a later date for Rickman, who was led out of the courtroom in handcuffs. 

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