Last week a Tulsa County jury convicted Amber Hilberling, 23, of second degree murder for pushing her husband out of the window of their 25th floor apartment. Earlier in the month, Hilberling rejected a plea deal that would have sentenced her to five years in prison; after her conviction, the jury recommended a sentence of 25 years. Amber Hilberling's sentencing is scheduled for April 23, but her criminal defense attorneys have already said they will appeal the conviction.
Convicted of Murder
On June 11, 2011, Amber Hilberling, 21 years old and 7 months pregnant, pushed her husband, 23-year-old Josh Hilberling, through the window of their 25th floor Tulsa apartment, sending him to his death 17 stories below on an 8th story parking garage. Though Amber Hilberling was initially charged with first degree murder, the charge was later amended to second degree murder. The prosecution did not argue that she intended to kill her husband; the defense did not deny that she pushed him. Rather, the case hinged upon whether or not the action which led to Josh's death was legal. The prosecution claimed that Amber pushed her husband out of anger and pointed to a history of domestic violence. The defense agreed that their was domestic violence in the home but argued that Josh was the aggressor and Amber pushed him in self defense.
According to the district attorneys prosecuting the case, there was no sign of a struggle to support self-defense claims. The defense countered with photographs of fingerprint bruising and scratches to Amber Hilberling's shoulders.
Tulsa County District Judge Kurt Glassco warned jurors to prepare for a night of long deliberations, but the jury returned a verdict after only three hours. Though prosecutors also filed an alternate charge of first degree manslaughter, jurors found Amber Hilberling guilty of second degree murder, the more serious charge.
Amber Hilberling's defense attorneys have already begun planning the appeal.
Grounds for appealing a conviction before the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals may include:
- Legal Errors
- Prosecutorial Misconduct
- Juror Misconduct
- New Evidence
- Ineffective Assistance of Counsel
Appealing Her Conviction
The appeal process may be handled by the original legal representation, or a defendant may wish to hire an attorney that specializes in criminal appeals. Obviously, if the grounds for appeal is ineffective assistance of counsel, a new appellate lawyer is warranted; however, in any case, a defendant may wish to have his or her appeal represented by an attorney with a fresh outlook on the case. If you have been wrongfully convicted or unfairly sentenced, it is important to contact an Oklahoma criminal appeals lawyer quickly--you have only a limited time to file your notice of appeal.