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Woman Who Pushed Husband Out of a High-Rise Apartment Hangs Herself in Prison

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An Oklahoma woman has killed herself in prison five years after she was convicted of pushing her husband to his death from their high-rise apartment, the Oklahoma Department of Corrections confirmed to PEOPLE.

Amber Hilberling, 25, was found hanging from the bunk bed of her cell by another inmate on Monday at 5:20 p.m., according to a news release from the DOC. Hilbering was in a medium-security housing unit at the Mabel Bassett Correctional Center in McLoud, Oklahoma.

Staff attempted life-saving procedures, corrections officials said, but Hilberling was pronounced dead on the scene at 5:33 p.m. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner preliminarily ruled Amber’s death as suicide by hanging.

The DOC’s Office of the Inspector General is further investigating the incident and will release more information when the investigation concludes, according to the release.

Mike Simons/Tulsa World/AP
Mike Simons/Tulsa World/AP

Hilberling was convicted in 2013 of second-degree murder in the death of her husband, Josh Hilberling, and was serving a 25-year sentence, NBC News reports. Her conviction was upheld in 2014 by the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals, according to CBS.

Josh, an U.S. Air Force veteran, died in June 2011 after falling 17 stories from the University Club Tower. Amber, who was 19 at the time, said she pushed her husband in self-defense during a fight in which she feared for his life, NBC reports.

Seven months pregnant at the time, Amber said she didn’t intend for the 23-year-old Josh to die.

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In a February appearance on Dr. Phil, Amber further detailed her side of the altercation, alleging, “He reached out and grabbed me. And I was pregnant. And he didn’t care.”

“I pushed him off me,” Amber claimed, according to the Tulsa World. “The window wasn’t supposed to happen.”

Amber said on Dr. Phil that Josh was abusive, alleging, “I loved Josh very much. I stayed with him for as long as I could. They painted me as a monster. It was breaking my heart just to have him leave. So to intend to kill somebody that you love that much, it couldn’t be plausible.”

Oklahoma Department of Corrections via AP
Oklahoma Department of Corrections via AP

During Amber’s trial, however, prosecutors argued that there was no evidence that Josh was pushed in self-defense that the apartment showed no signs of struggle, according to CBS. They said that even if Josh’s death was unintentional, Amber showed a disregard for his life by pushing him toward the window.

Josh’s family reportedly reacted to Amber’s death through a Facebook post on Monday, writing, “We heard that Amber Hilberling hung herself in prison this evening. We know how it feels to lose a child. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. It’s something no parent should have to experience. Condolences to those who loved her.”

(Patrick and Jeanne Hilberling, Josh’s parents, did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.)

According to screengrabs taken by Oklahoma’s News on 6, Amber’s mother, Rhonda Whitlock, wrote in her own Facebook post after Amber’s death, “Fly baby girl to the angels, away from the pain on this earth.” (Whitlock declined to comment to PEOPLE.)

“I hate what this world did to you,” she wrote. “Go rest in the arms of Jesus…

“The media, the haters, the Hilberling’s got their wish. Hope they are happy. I will never stop fighting for the truth.”