Families React To Amber Hilberling's Sentencing In Tulsa High-Rise Death
TULSA, Oklahoma - Amber Hilberling was convicted last month of second degree murder for pushing her husband to his death from a 25th floor window. The jury recommended she serve 25 years in prison and, Tuesday afternoon, the judge agreed.
Judge Kurt Glassco said there is no such thing as a perfect trial, but there are fair trials and he believes this trial was fair to all concerned. He said this case has many victims aside from Josh Hilberling, including Josh's son and the families of both Josh and Amber. He even said he was truly sorry Josh's brother, who was serving in Afghanistan at the time, learned of Josh's death through Facebook.
Ultimately, the judge said the jury worked hard and he would honor their decision.
Amber's mother, Rhonda Whitlock, took the witness stand to tell the judge that Amber's family loves and supports her, will keep fighting for her and will raise her little boy, Levi, until Amber comes home. Whitlock told the judge Josh Hilberling's death was a terrible accident.
Amber's family believes a terrible injustice has been done.
"The whole thing is a tragic accident," said Amber's stepfather, Bryan Whitlock. "We had a son, father, husband who was lost. Convicting and sending an innocent person to jail does not get revenge, does not bring Josh back. We will continue to fight until true justice is served."
Amber also took the stand to read a statement that first thanked the judge, then acknowledged the grief Josh's family is going through and offered them her condolences and, in her words, her most genuine apology.
She also thanked her family for their support and told her son, who was not in the courtroom, she loved him and he would also be with her, even in her dreams. Finally, she said she trusted God and was praying for everyone involved.
Her family cried during the hearing.
"My heart breaks for everyone involved," Rhonda Whitlock said.
As for Josh's family, this was another in a string of long, horrible days, filled with tears and unspeakable grief. They said it didn't bring them happiness or peace, just a hope they might be able to begin healing.
"We want our lives back. We want to remember Josh. He had a lot of friends, touched a lot of lives," said his stepmother Jeanne Hilberling.
As for Amber's apology, Josh's family said, perhaps had it come sooner, it may have meant more, but their focus has been on enduring the worst nightmare of their lives: the loss of their firstborn child.
"This has been the hardest thing for me, my wife, my family - all of us - friends. We've lost a son, they've lost a daughter--nobody won. It's the hardest thing anyone has to go through," said Josh's father, Patrick Hilberling.
Well known Tulsa attorney Clark Brewster announced Tuesday he will be handling Amber Hilberling's appeal, and is hoping for a new trial based partly on evidence that was withheld from the jury about why the couple was fighting the day Josh was killed.
In addition to the $10,000 fine levied by the jury, the judge also ordered Amber to reimburse Josh's family for the $6,000 in funeral expenses.