TULSA, Oklahoma — A Tulsa district judge sentenced a woman to 25 years in prison Tuesday after a jury convicted her of second-degree murder for shoving her husband through a 25th-floor apartment window to his death.
Amber Hilberling's punishment gives the Tulsa woman credit for the roughly 15 months she has already spent behind bars, but she must serve 85 percent of her time before being considered for early release. That will put her in prison for 21 years and three months.
"This is a tragic case with many victims," Judge Kurt Glassco said before handing down the sentence.
Hilberling, wearing an orange jail jumpsuit and shackled at the wrists and ankles, sobbed quietly as the judge spoke.
Hilberling's defense attorneys asked the court to be lenient and to take into account that Hilberling was seven months pregnant and just 19 years old when she shoved her 23-year-old husband, Joshua Hilberling, out the window in 2011. But Glassco said it was not his role to become a "super juror" and try to modify the 25-year sentence recommended by the jury that convicted her.
"Actions have consequences," Glassco said.
Hilberling's attorneys indicated they would appeal.
A jury deliberated for less than three hours last month before finding Hilberling guilty and recommending the 25-year sentence.
Prosecutors had argued during her trial that she shoved Joshua Hilberling after becoming enraged because he was going to leave her.
But defense attorneys argued that his death was a tragic accident and blamed the "unusually thin" windows in the couple's downtown Tulsa apartment.
Hilberling took the stand in her own defense, frequently sobbing as she told jurors she and her husband started arguing in their bedroom about splitting up and that the fight ended up in the living room. Hilberling said she was seven months pregnant with her and her husband's son and feared for her safety as the dispute escalated.
But prosecutor Michelle Keely picked Hilberling's testimony apart, including questioning whether one push from her would be enough to cause her husband — a 6-foot-4-inch, 220-pound ex-football player — to fall through a glass window. Detectives testified earlier in the trial that they saw no signs of a physical struggle in the couple's apartment.
The scene during Tuesday's sentencing was similar to the one at trial, with Joshua Hilberling's family members taking up one side of the courtroom and his wife's relatives the other side. By the end of the sentencing, family members on both sides were sobbing.
Before Hilberling received her punishment, she and her mother both took the witness stand to make final statements to the court.
Through tears, Hilberling's mother, Rhonda Whitlock, said what happened to Joshua Hilberling "was nothing more than a tragic accident."
Amber Hilberling read from a folded-up note, her eyes welling with tears.
"I never intended for this accident to happen and I am so sorry it did," she told the court.
Glassco then asked for final statements from attorneys.
Keely, the prosecutor, said jurors "spoke very clearly" to the court when they found Hilberling guilty of second-degree murder in less than three hours.
Defense attorney April Seibert called the recommendation of a 25-year sentence "outrageous" and "excessive."
"She's a 21-year-old girl," Seibert said. "She was 19 at the time. You have to consider this girl and where she was in her life when this happened."