WAS AN ATLANTA DETECTIVE’S INVESTIGATION INTO AN ALLEGED RAPE AND SHOOTING INFLUENCED BY TV CAMERAS? “48 HOURS” INVESTIGATES IN “REALITY KILLS”
Saturday, Nov. 11, 10:00 PM, ET/PT
(L-R) Victoria Rickman, Will Carter, Jr. and Summer Benton
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Did being on camera for a true-crime television show influence the way an Atlanta detective investigated an alleged rape and murder? Erin Moriarty and 48 HOURS investigate what impact that TV show may have had into the search for clues in the death of a Marietta, Ga. man and the murder case against the woman who shot him dead, in “Reality Kills” to be broadcast Saturday, Nov. 11 (10:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
It’s a case that raises questions about the investigative process when TV cameras are around, and exposes deep flaws in a relationship that ended in the death of a young father, who overcame addiction to become a successful businessman. It’s an investigation that ultimately hinges on whether the shooting was done in self-defense or if it was premeditated murder.
In the early morning hours of Sept. 13, 2013, Victoria Rickman called 9-1-1- to report she had repeatedly shot her boyfriend, Will Carter Jr. She said he raped her. Rickman said she shot to stop the attack.
“I, of course, think this is going to be a self-defense case,” Atlanta Police Department Detective Summer Benton tells Moriarty. “All I thought was, I want to shake her hand. She got a rapist off the street.”
When she arrived on the scene, Benton had a camera crew for a true-crime TV series, “Inside Homicide,” in tow. Benton tells Moriarty something wasn’t right with the scene. There were no signs of a struggle. “Nothing looked like what it should have looked like,” Benton says.
Carter’s parents, in their first television interview, tell 48 HOURS that they knew their son and his girlfriend had a volatile relationship, and they warned their son that Rickman was trouble. William Carter Sr. says he knew when Benton called that morning, it was bad news.
“It was 5:30 in the morning, and the phone rings twice, you know that’s not good,” William Carter tells Moriarty. Benton told him it appeared to be a self-defense case. “I about puked,” Carter says. “I said, ‘No, it’s not, either.’”
“His biggest flaw was that he couldn’t see the evil in her,” Carter’s mother, Caro, tells Moriarty.
Six-and-a-half hours after the shooting, Rickman was arrested and charged with murder. Prosecutors maintain that Rickman made up the rape to cover for shooting him. Her defense attorney, Amanda Clark Palmer, maintains that Benton made mistakes during the investigation and was guilty of a rush to judgment because she was being tailed by a TV crew. Palmer cites several points Benton makes on camera that she says are not true.
“It certainly seems and looks like the TV cameras affected what happened,” Palmer tells 48 HOURS.
“Everything was done for a TV show and there was no real investigation,” Rickman tells Moriarty.
Did the TV production have an influence on the investigation? Benton, a seasoned investigator, says the TV crew had no impact. “If she had been raped that night, then this would have been a justified shooting, and I would have written it up like that,” Benton tells Moriarty. “But this was not a justified shooting. This was cold blooded murder.”
48 HOURS was in the courtroom for the August trial, was there on Sept. 1 when a jury decided Rickman’s fate and later when a judge decided her future. Moriarty and 48 HOURS report the story through interviews with Detective Summer Benton as well as Carter and Rickman’s family members, friends, and more. 48 HOURS: “Reality Kills” is produced by Paul LaRosa and Elena DiFiore. Stephen A. McCain and Michelle Feuer are the development producers. Ken Blum, Doreen Schechter and Gary Winter are the editors. Patti Aronofsky is the senior producer. Nancy Kramer is the executive story editor. Susan Zirinsky is the senior executive producer.