A Tulsa woman today pleaded guilty in federal court to charges of murder, assault, and being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition, announced U.S. Attorney Trent Shores.
Sha-Lisa Harlin, 39, pleaded guilty to the three counts before Chief U.S. District Judge John E. Dowdell.
“An enraged Sha-lisa Harlin murdered her boyfriend in the midst of a confrontation she had with him and another woman,” said U.S. Attorney Trent Shores. “Tragically, this scenario is far too common an occurrence. Guns are used to commit more than half of all intimate partner homicides in the United States. Today, Assistant U.S. Attorney Ross Lenhardt deftly represented the United States in this matter, ensuring Ms. Harlin was held accountable for her appalling acts. Credit also goes to the FBI and Tulsa Police Department for their diligent work on this investigation.”
In connection with the guilty plea, the Court was advised that at the time of the crime, Harlin was residing at the Extended Stay Hotel in Tulsa with the victim Dalton Whitlow, her boyfriend, after their home burned down. On May 22, 2020, the defendant learned that Whitlow had begun a relationship with another woman, armed herself with her loaded .25 caliber semi-automatic pistol, and went looking for Whitlow and the woman. Harlin encountered the woman’s roommate. According to the roommate, the defendant pointed the gun at her and demanded to know where she could find the couple. The roommate entered the passenger’s side of the defendant’s vehicle, and the two drove to a nearby hotel in an unsuccessful attempt to find the couple.
Upon returning to the Extended Stay, the defendant then encountered the woman and pointed the gun at her. The victim arrived and got between the two. During the encounter, the gun was fired, and the bullet went into the ground. As Harlin continued to pursue the woman, the gun was fired a second time, hitting Whitlow in the temple, entering his brain. The magazine in Harlin’s firearm would not remain in the gun, requiring her to physically hold the magazine in the firearm in order for it to automatically chamber the second round and fire it. The victim later passed away in the hospital.
Harlln remained with the victim until medics and police arrived. The gun and fired casings were recovered at the scene where defendant confessed to the shooting.
Harlin, who by law was restricted from possessing a firearm, has a prior felony conviction from 2013 in Kingfisher County, Oklahoma, for passing a stolen check for approximately $1500 worth of goods.
Judge Dowdell scheduled sentencing for April 27, 2021, at 9:30am, and remanded the defendant into the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Ross E. Lenhardt is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government. Lenhardt is a federal prosecutor from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, who volunteered to come to Tulsa for 6 months and prosecute violent crimes after the Supreme Court’s ruling in McGirt v. Oklahoma.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation joined with officers and detectives of the Tulsa Police Department to conduct the investigation that led to the Harlin’s prosecution.