Oklahoma Assault Charge Amended to Murder after Wife Dies

An elderly man was charged with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon in Oklahoma after allegedly stabbing his wife of fifty years as many as twenty times. 

However, after the woman died approximately a week after the attack, the charge has been amended to first degree murder. On December 14, Rexford Earl Hilburn, 71, of Shawnee, allegedly stabbed his wife fourteen to twenty times in the bathroom of their home after accusing her of having an affair.  Linda Carol Hilburn, 67, was able to call emergency officers for help. When police arrived, they found Rexford Hilburn standing alone in the back of a room.

The Hilburns' family members say the attack is completely out of character for Mr. Hilburn, with his son-in-law calling him "the kindest man I've ever known."  The couple's granddaughter says that her grandfather began having "severe emotional issues" this summer, including mood swings, stuttering, and "[making] stories up." 

While the physicians had not yet found a diagnosis for Rexford Hilburn, he was on medication, and family members say he changed medication just before the attack. Rexford Hilburn has no history of domestic violence, and in fact, has no criminal record at all. 

His criminal lawyer will likely be able to use Hilburn's medical history in conjunction with the lack of criminal record to build a defense.  Further showing that the assault was out of character and unexpected is Mrs. Hilburn's reaction to her husband's actions. 

Even while hospitalized prior to her death, she was concerned for her husband's well-being, concerned about his safety in jail and wanting to make sure that he had his medication. Pottawatomie County District Attorney Richard Smotherman says that "justice demands" a first degree murder charge for Rexford Hilburn, "regardless of the circumstances."

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