Tulsa High-Rise Death: Amber Hilberling Takes Stand In Own Defense

Friday, March 15th 2013, 12:14 pm
By: News On 6

Amber Hilberling took to the witness stand, testifying on her own behalf in a Tulsa County District Courtroom Friday.

She's charged with second degree murder in the death of her husband, Joshua Hilberling, nearly two years ago. Prosecutors allege Hilberling pushed her husband out the window of their 25th floor apartment.

Hilberling was very soft spoken when she testified and sometimes hesitant in her answers. A few times, she was seen crying.

3/14/2013 Related Story: Testimony Continues In Tulsa High-Rise Death Trial

The 21-year-old Hilberling claims she acted in self defense and that the glass in the apartment window was dangerously thin.

She told the court on Friday that Joshua grabbed her shoulders hard enough to scare her and make her afraid for her unborn son, so she pushed him.

She spoke of making eye contact with her husband as he went out the window, and that much of what happened afterward is a blur.

On Thursday, jurors watched a video of Amber Hilberling on the day of her husband's death. It showed her talking to her grandmother as she was waiting on police in an interview room.

In the video, Hilberling told her grandmother that Joshua was "messing with the TV and I pushed him."

Prosecutors on Thursday challenged Hilberling's claim of self-defense by calling police detectives who testified they saw no signs of a struggle in the couple's apartment.

On Friday morning, Amber Hilberling's attorneys called in a glass expert who said that thin of glass is usually only used in small windows and picture frames. He also testified that the window had been re caulked many times and caulk was decomposing.

The defense's expert also said the rubber gaskets holding in the window were in bad shape and reused even after the window was replaced.

In September 2012, Amber Hilberling filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the property management company and University Club Tower's management and maintenance staff, claiming that they knowingly installed dangerous windows in the apartment.

Prosecutors say the caulk or gaskets didn't cause the window to break - the impact of Joshua's body did.

3/08/2013 Related Story: Tulsa Woman Accused Of Pushing Husband To His Death Rejects Plea Deal

She said she did not intend for her husband to fall through the window that day in June 2011.

Hilberling said they were breaking up and had been arguing all morning. She said when Josh grabbed her shoulders, it made her fear for her unborn child, so she pushed him off her. The next thing she knew, she said Josh was going through the glass. She said the two of them made eye contact as he fell.

Hilberling told the jury she met Josh when she was 17, but they didn't start dating until the next year. They got married within a couple of months, because he was being stationed at the Air Force Base in Fairbanks, Alaska.

She said they moved back to Tulsa the next year and were living at the University Towers apartments for about a month, while waiting for a house to be remodeled.

She was 19 years old and they had been married less than a year, when he died.

When her attorney asked her if she loved her husband, she said, "More than anything."

She said she was only trying to get him off her when she pushed him and, as soon as he fell through the window, she ran to it and looked down just as he hit the ground.

She testified she then went downstairs to where he was and she rolled him onto his back and kissed him. She said she was crying and hysterical and she doesn't remember all the details of that day, because everything happened so fast.

When her attorney asked her if she expected him to die, she said, "Not in a million years." She said she didn't intend for him to fall through the window.

The DA cross examined Hilberling, trying to show inconsistencies between what she told the jury Friday and what she said to her grandmother the day Josh died, while they were sitting in an interrogation room, unaware they were being recorded.

Defense attorneys also called a glass expert who said the glass in the window was too thin and shouldn't be used in high rises, because it's normally only used for small windows or picture frames.

The DA pointed out the window didn't break on its own, but because Josh Hilberling's body impacted it.

The case is expected to go to the jury on Monday.

Amber Hilberling rejected a plea deal offered by prosecutors last week and decided to go to trial -- where she faces up to life in prison if convicted.