"Toxic people project their own character defects onto their victims. They do this by accusing the victims of the exact actions they themselves do but deny."-Shannon Thomas
“He tried to rape me again and I tried to ask him to stop and I shot him. I just kept shooting and shooting and shooting and shooting. I shot him all over. I didn’t want to hurt him, but he wouldn’t stop.”
"You are too dangerous to be around. Never contact me or mother of my child again."
He also confirmed that he would follow up on criminal charges against her in relation to the assault. This made her worried. She was afraid that an assault charge would cause issues with the custody of her child.That day, the 13th of September, Victoria admitted shooting Will with a .40 caliber semiautomatic that was in her bedroom. When the police arrived, they found no sign of any forced entry. Victoria was standing in the doorway holding a small dog. Her hair was wet and she had on a clean pair of pajamas. She did not appear to be injured. Nothing in the home seemed to be disturbed or out of place. She told police:
“he raped me again and I shot him.”
Victoria claimed she shot Will in self defense. But Police investigating the crime, saw an entirely different crime scene to the one Victoria portrayed. They believed Will was standing at the time with his back to her and not facing her when he was shot. They believed he was standing next to the bed facing the window when he was shot in the back three times. One of those shots filled his lungs with blood and caused him to cough. That was evident, they claimed, from the pattern of the blood spray on the wall next to the window. After Will coughed, they believed he fell back on to the bed. Victoria continued shooting him and fired more shots into his chest and his head.
malice murder, felony murder predicated on aggravated assault, aggravated assault, and possession of a firearm
As Victoria had claimed she was raped, she was taken for a rape exam. It showed that she had intercourse but there were no internal injuries. Victoria told the treating physician that Will forced her to have vaginal sex and he then restrained and beat her. To defend herself, she grabbed a gun from the nightstand and shot him.
Will and Victoria
The Autopsy revealed he had been shot ten times. Four of the shots were to his chest, three times in the back, once on the arm, and twice in the head. There were bruises on his chin and left arm which were likely caused by a blunt object. The medical examiner concluded that Will died as a result of his gunshot wounds.
The murder weapon, a .40-caliber semi- automatic firearm, was found inside the drawer of the nightstand. There was blood spatter on the wall, curtains, window, and a pillow on the floor. The State’s crime scene expert opined that Will was standing and facing the bedroom wall when he was shot in the back, after which he fell to the bed and the remaining shots were fired.
The Prosecution told the Court how Will had sent text messages to Victoria describing her as the love of his life. He wanted to be with her but she treated him badly and he expressed his anguish that she would call the police and make false allegations against him.
The Prosecution also told the Court that Victoria sent herself threatening text messages but made it appear as if Will had sent them to her.
They also introduced evidence that on at least two occasions Victoria assaulted Will but called the police and said that he assaulted her. Furthermore, they introduced evidence that this was a pattern of repeated behaviour. Victoria threatened to falsely accuse her ex boyfriend, William Plunkett, of rape too.
The gun Victoria used to shoot Will was given to her by a law enforcement officer, Cobb County Deputy Sheriff Rick Price, just a few months earlier. He met her at a Courthouse. She told him she was afraid and he gave her the gun, one of his personal guns.
He even brought her to a gun range to practice. Disturbingly, he was the first one she called after she shot Will. She called him before making the 911 call. He confirmed he was interested romantically in Victoria but denied claims that they were more than friends.
The Defense claimed that Victoria was a "battered woman" , a victim of domestic abuse and as such Will's death was the result of self defense. They claimed the investigating Detective who arrived at the scene rushed to judgment because she had a camera crew with her for a true-crime TV series, "Inside Homicide."
The Defense claimed that Victoria was raped that night and Will had arrived at the house and seemed intoxicated. They called his psychiatrist, Dr. John Lochridge, to testify. He said that three days before Will's death, Will reported having delusions and had been taking an anti-psychotic drug to help him sleep better.
A former chief medical examiner for the State of Georgia, Dr. Kris Lee Sperry, testified for the Defense and opined that Victoria fired the first shots into Will's chest, not his back.
With two very different versions of events, it was up to the Jury to decide based on all the evidence that was presented to them at the Trial. Was this a case of a woman who had been a victim of domestic violence, one who had been subjected to emotional, sexual and physical abuse, and shot her attacker in self defense? Or was this a cold and calculated killer, one who planned a murder and had a history of telling lies, abusing others physically and emotionally and making false allegations?
It took the Jury less than one hour to reach a Verdict. They found Victoria guilty on all four charges.
Victoria Rickman spoke to the Judge:
"Your honor, thank you for the time to speak and clarify the facts of this case. I am a mother who has been stolen from her son's life. I am a battered woman. I am a victim who continues to suffer the nightmares and symptoms of PTSD caused from being forced to defend myself in years of abuse. So I ask you, your honor, to return me to my son and life and give me back my voice and my dignity."
Victoria did not express any remorse for shooting Will. And the Judge showed no leniency. The Judge sentenced her to life without the possibility of parole. There was domestic violence in this case and Will was the victim. He paid the ultimate price.
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"The criminal justice system will take a hard look at what happened to Matthew Eappen. It is up to the rest of us to take an even harder look at who is minding our children."
- Eileen McNamara, the Boston Globe
"The effects of abuse are devastating and far reaching. Domestic violence speaks many languages, has many colors and lives in many different communities."
- Sandra Pupatello
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