A woman who admitted to fatally shooting her fiancé in Tulsa about a year ago was sentenced to federal prison Tuesday.
U.S. District Judge Terence Kern sentenced Sha-lisa Harlin to serve 14 years and four months in prison, followed by three years of post-custody release.
Harlin, 39, pleaded guilty in January to second-degree murder in connection with the shooting of Dalton Whitlow, 23, on May 22, 2020.
Harlin also agreed to plead guilty to one count of assault with a dangerous weapon in Indian Country and one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Harlin told police the shooting occurred after she found Whitlow and another woman at a hotel in the 3400 hundred block of South 79th East Avenue. Harlin said she believed that Whitlow was having an affair at the time.
While confronting the woman at the hotel, the .25-caliber gun Harlin was carrying discharged, striking no one, after Whitlow attempted to take it from her.
When Whitlow tried to intervene again, the gun discharged a second time, striking him in the head.
He died at a hospital a week later.
At her sentencing hearing, Harlin apologized to the victim’s family and called her love for Whitlow “unbreakable,” describing him as “everything that I loved.”
“I wish that I could bring Dalton back,” Harlin said.
Two members of Whitlow’s family spoke about the crime’s impact on them, with one calling the killing a “senseless act of jealousy.”
Harlin was initially arrested on state complaints of assault and battery with a deadly weapon and domestic assault and battery.
After Whitlow died, her state charges were amended to second-degree murder.
Harlin’s case was transferred to federal court in accordance with U.S. Supreme Court and state appellate court rulings that together determined that crimes involving American Indians within one of the Five Tribes’ historical reservation boundaries cannot be tried in state courts.
A federal grand jury indicted Harlin on Sept. 11 on four charges: one count of first-degree murder, two counts of assault with a dangerous weapon in Indian Country and one count of felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition.
Harlin, a member of the Cherokee Nation, was convicted in Kingfisher County in 2013 of obtaining money under false pretenses.
Under the terms of the plea agreement, which required judicial approval, the government and Harlin agreed that the appropriate sentence was between 168 months and 210 months in prison.
“This case is a true tragedy,” Kern said before announcing Harlin’s sentence. “It’s a real sad situation.”