Dateline   |  May 17, 2013

'Shattered', Part 3

Amber Hilberlng and her grandmother are alone in an interview room at a police station for almost an hour.  They have no idea police are recording their conversation.  Then Amber then makes a sudden admission that transforms her into a suspect.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> you. dare to be revlon.

>>> amber hilberling and her grandmother were in a police station in downtown tulsa and during their intense hour-long conversation, one thing amber said stood out.

>> and the window is right here and i pushed him and he went out the window and fell. god.

>> to police eavesdropping on them, that sounded like a critical statement. but what did it really mean? lead detective jeff felton .

>> i didn't know the motive behind the push, i didn't know if there was a domestic situation going on. i didn't know if they were playing around and she pushed him.

>> sort of giving the benefit of the doubt in a way.

>> absolutely. i mean, it's just -- nothing that i've ever seen before.

>> felton had to figure out how the push happened and also what, if anything, led to it. and that meant taking a closer look at amber and her marriage.

>> it was a volatile relationship without a doubt.

>> how did things get that way? that all depends on whom you ask.

>> from the day the couple moved to alaska , amber 's mother could see the storm clouds gathering.

>> amber was used to getting her hair done, her nails done and all of a sudden you put this girl in a different world and it's cold and she found out she was pregnant. it was like a tornado going. too many things happening at once.

>> their alaskan adventure derailed almost from the start.

>> when did your life start not seeming quite so perfect anymore?

>> being newlyweds alone is a struggle. and then the alaska factor, getting used to a whole new place and -- i mean, we just slowly started seeing how different we were really were.

>> how were you different?

>> in every way. he was the modest predictable type and i was more the wild hair.

>> josh's father thought it was a terrible match the first time he saw the young couple together.

>> it just didn't make any sense to me. i felt like my son was making a mistake.

>> amber 's mom had to agree. josh and amber were naive, starry-eyed lovers.

>> they were too young and in love. they wanted this fairytale marriage that didn't exist because that's not real life .

>> as the winter days grew colder and darker, the strain was too much. there were lots of arguments and troubling late-night calls to mom and dad from both of them.

>> he was in tears. and he didn't know what to do.

>> after josh was discharged from the air force , they came back home. tulsa might have meant a fresh start . but the fighting continued. it turned out alaska wasn't the problem, their marriage was.

>> on june 7th , 2011 , just a couple of weeks after they had moved into the university club high-rise, josh's bags were packed and he was waiting for a ride. that's when he fell to his death. and now detectives started focusing their attention on that 25th floor apartment.

>> i made sure that the upstairs was secure and went and applied for a search warrant so that we could go inside.

>> once he entered josh and amber 's apartment, felton looked for evidence that maybe there had been a fight that had gone terribly wrong. but he couldn't find anything to suggest the couple had been in the throes of a violent struggle just before the fatal push.

>> the furniture was all in place, the -- other than the broken window, there was nothing that would indicate that any kind of struggle had taken place.

>> when you think about a pregnant woman , 5'5" pushing her husband who is 6'4" out a window like that, is it surprising that she would be able to do that?

>> no, ma'am. if you catch somebody off guard and i mean, a big body can actually work against you.

>> do you think he was caught off guard and pushed?

>> yes, ma'am. i think he was messing with the television set.

>> so you think she did it on purpose?

>> i think she shoved him on purpose, absolutely.

>> and the more felton heard of what amber said in that interrogation room, the more convinced he became that she had condemned herself.

>> i wonder if his parents know yet? they kept saying if we stay together i'm going to kill him.

>> with amber saying things that sounded an awful lot like a confession, grandma gloria offered up some sobering advice.

>> when they come in, just say i don't want to say nothing until my attorney gets here, okay? don't -- and don't slip any other way.

>> it turns out, an attorney was exactly what amber needed. police and prosecutors decided her push was, in fact, a crime. she was arrested and charged with second-degree murder. amber 's mother was shocked. she thought it was obvious her daughter had been traumatized in the hours after josh's death. she also thought it was outrageous that anyone would hold anything she said to her grandmother in the interrogation room against her.

>> she was a broken girl that had just witnessed the most horrible thing. she was in complete shock. as we all were. making someone pay for a tragic accident doesn't correct the situation.

>> but the question of whether amber should pay was out of her mother's hands. it would now be decided in a tulsa courtroom.