Tulsa High-Rise Death: Amber Hilberling Guilty Of Second Degree Murder
TULSA, Oklahoma - A jury found a Tulsa woman guilty of second degree murder in the death of her husband. Amber Hilberling admitted shoving husband Josh Hilberling, but said she never expected him to fall through a window to his death.
The jury recommended 25 years in prison.
Joshua Hilberling, 23, died after being pushed from the 25th story of the University Club apartments.
The jury sent a note to the judge Monday afternoon asking if he could alter a sentence they recommend and if a sentence includes time served.
Judge Glassco answered, "That's not your concern." The jury reached a verdict after about two-and-a-half hours of deliberation.
Earlier this month, Hilberling turned down a plea deal from prosecutors that would have sent her to prison for only five years.
Attorneys for both sides said the whole case came down to the push she gave her husband and whether it was legal or not.
If it was done in self-defense, the push was legal, which would've made it an accident. But if she didn't push him in self-defense, it would be considered a crime.
Prosecutors told the jury the evidence did not support Hilberling's claim of self-defense. They said there were no signs of a struggle in the apartment. They said she told her grandmother that Josh was messing with the TV when she pushed him.
The prosecutor agreed that Amber probably didn't mean to kill Josh, but said that it didn't matter; what mattered was that her actions caused his death.
However, defense attorneys said there was plenty of evidence that supported the self-defense claim, including fingerprint marks and a scratch on Amber's shoulders, where she said Josh grabbed her right before she pushed him off her.
The defense said witnesses heard Amber yelling, "No, no, no," followed by stomping and a crash. They said when she got into the elevator, hysterically trying to get to Josh, a man yelled at her to shut up, and she cowered on the elevator floor. They argued those are not the actions of a woman who was being aggressive. The defense argued no one could expect somebody to fall out of a high-rise building.
Before deliberation, defense attorneys told the jury it was time to end the circus and send Amber home to her baby.
"She has a really good heart. She just feels terribly about what happened. She loved her husband and has a really good heart," said Hilberling's attorney April Seibert.
Prosecutors told the jury, had Josh been pushed out the window backward, as Amber claimed, he would've been grabbing for anything to break his fall and his arms were longer than the window was wide, so he could've stopped himself from falling. They said Amber at 5-foot-5, 135 pounds and pregnant, didn't have the strength, position or leverage to push Josh as she said. The state argued she caught him unaware, ran toward him, and pushed him from the side or back, which is not self-defense.
Hilberling will remain in jail with no bond until the judge sentences her on April 23. She will also pay $10,000 in fines.