Homicide Suspect Files Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Tulsa

Oklahoma crime victims, in some cases, are able to file a civil complaint against the person who harmed them.  The Oklahoma Criminal Defense blog has discussed how victims of assault may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against their attackers or against property owners who maintain an unsafe premises conducive to crime.  In an interesting case out of Tulsa, Oklahoma, the premise of civil litigation in criminal cases has been turned on its head:  a woman charged with the second degree murder of her husband has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the owners of the building where he died. Amber Hilberling, 20, was charged with second degree murder after allegedly pushing her husband, 23-year-old Joshua Hilberling, out of a window on the 25th floor of a Tulsa high-rise apartment building during an argument.  Amber Hilberling, who was 19 years old and seven months pregnant at the time of her husband's death in June 2011, was initially released from jail but was ordered to return in December after repeated violations related to her GPS monitoring ankle device.  After approximately two weeks in jail, Hilberling's bond was re-instated.  In early January 2012, her bond was again revoked after she tested positive for THC, a chemical compound in marijuana. Amber Hilberling maintains that her husband's death was accidental.  She claims that Joshua tripped and stumbled, crashing through the window and landing on a parking garage 17 stories below.  In a wrongful death suit filed against University Club Tower, where the incident occurred, her Oklahoma premises liability lawyer says that the apartment owners are liable for Joshua Hilberling's death because the window installed on the 25th floor of the building was too thin. The lawsuit claims, "Because of the dangerous thinness of the window glass, and its size and location, the glass could be broken by a minimal amount of pressure."  Hilberling's attorney told local media, "This was a window as large as a dining room table and as thin as a napkin," Corns said. "It was dangerously unsafe and had no business in a 25th-floor living room."  Had the glass been thick and sturdy enough, the lawsuit alleges, Amber Hilberling would not be a young widow facing murder charges, and her infant son would not be deprived of his father.  She is seeking damages amounting $10,000 for herself and her son. Amber Hilberling's trial is scheduled for March.  She is charged with second degree murder and an alternate charge of first degree manslaughter.

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