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Day 3 of testimony under way in Amber Hilberling trial, woman charged with husband's high-rise fall
11:05 AM, Mar 15, 2013
7:55 PM, Mar 15, 2013
TULSA - The third day of testimony is under way at the Tulsa County Courthouse in the trial of a woman charged with her husband's high-rise fall.
Amber Hilberling took the stand Friday morning, admitting to pushing her husband "because he grabbed me."
Hilberling is charged with second-degree murder. Prosecutors say she pushed her husband, Joshua Hilberling, out the window of their 25th-floor apartment at University Club Tower in 2011. He fell 17 stories to his death, landing on the eighth-floor parking garage.
Hilberling's attorneys say her husband's fall was an accident committed out of self-defense. She previously filed a wrongful death suit against the apartment, claiming the windows were dangerously thin.
Hilberling testified she wasn't trying to kill her husband, nor was she hoping he'd die as a result of the push.
"I just wanted him to stop. I just wanted him to stop," she said.
On the day of Joshua Hilberling's death, the two woke up, had breakfast and talked. She said she wanted a divorce, according to her testimony.
Hilberling testified she told Joshua to call his family and she planned to go to her grandmother's. She said she was separating dirty laundry and an argument ensued.
Hilberling said Joshua threw the clothes basket at the bedroom window, breaking it. She said her husband didn't want Amber's mother to find out about the window and offered to fix it himself, but the maintenance man told the couple that wasn't an option. Then the fight began.
"Josh was standing at the farthest edge of the TV," she said. "We started arguing. I don't remember what was said."
Hilberling said they met in front of the TV, Joshua was frustrated and grabbed her shoulders.
Hilberling was seven months pregnant with her son, Levi. She said her husband was pushing her enough to scare her.
"I pushed him off of me. I don't remember after that. I saw him go through the glass ... I just remember him going through the glass," she said. "We made eye contact the whole time ... I ran to the window. I grabbed the edge and looked over in time to see him hit the ground."
Before Hilberling took the stand, her grandmother Gloria Bowers testified about how Amber called her, screaming "Josh is dead." She said her granddaughter was "hysterical."
On Friday morning, two witnesses for the defense took the stand -- one an investigator who was formerly a building inspector for the city of Tulsa for 20-plus years, the other a building surveyor.
W. C. Crager went into the apartment nine days after Joshua Hilberling's fall to collect evidence for the defense. While inside, he collected glass from the bedroom. Prosecutors made the point that it's unclear where that glass came from because the window Joshua fell from had already been repaired.
Mark Meshulam, a building envelope consultant has surveyed the outsides of buildings for 32 years. He took the stand for the defense as an expert on glass.
During Meshulam's testimony, he said the glass in the University Club Tower apartments, which were built in 1966, is for the most part the same glass from when the building was built. He said it's picture-frame thin, measured at 0.092 inches thick.
"It's not safe," said Meshulam.
Meshulam said in his experience he would never use that thin of glass in a high-rise building, though he later admitted during questioning from the prosecution that he's not involved in the architecture of buildings.
He said the building's maintenance has been shoddy and the glass and rubber gaskets are all in poor condition.
Previous testimony from the prosecution's witnesses came from Joshua Hilberling's father, who said his son wanted a divorce and to leave the day he died. Photographs and video from the scene showed jurors a partially empty closet and a packed bag.
Witnesses who were inside and outside the apartment when Joshua fell also took the stand, saying Amber Hilberling was screaming, "I pushed my husband out the window. I killed him."
Detectives testified they saw no signs of a struggle inside the apartment in contrast to the defense's claim that the Hilberlings were involved in a heated argument.
Jurors also heard a recording of Hilberling as she confessed to her grandmother, "I pushed my husband and made him fall out the window ... He was messing with the TV and I pushed him."
The case is expected to wrap Monday. The judge has instructed the jury to prepare for a long night of deliberations.
2NEWS reporter Max Resnik was in the courtroom Friday. Stay with us for more on this case.