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Mary Beth HARSHBARGER

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
Classification: Homicide
Characteristics: Fatally shot her husband during a hunting trip to Canada - She thought her husband was a black bear
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: September 14, 2006
Date of arrest: May 14, 2010
Date of birth: February 19, 1965
Victim profile: Mark Harshbarger, 42 (her husband)
Method of murder: Shooting (rifle)
Location: Buchans Junction, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
Status: Found not guilty of criminal negligence causing death on October 28, 2010
 
 

 
 
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Mary Beth Harshbarger (born February 19, 1965) is an American woman who rose to media attention when she shot her husband, Mark Harshbarger, during a hunting trip in Newfoundland, Canada. Her subsequent controversial claim that she mistook her husband to be a black bear has been subject to a lengthy investigation and trial.

Biography

Harshbarger was born Eddie Charles Kinter in Meshoppen, She transitioned into being a woman in the early 1980s in Pennsylvania. On June 23, 2001, she married Mark Harshbarger with whom she had two children.

Shooting incident

On September 14, 2006, Mary Beth, her husband Mark and their two young children, and Mark’s brother Barry Harshbarger, were on a hunting trip outside of Buchans Junction in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador. The facts of the case state that Mary Beth was sitting in the back of a Chevy pickup truck with her children, armed with a rifle, on a logging road late in the day. She waited with her children while Mark and a local hunting guide walked through the nearby spruce woods in the hopes of flushing out a black bear. Barry was at a hunting blind elsewhere in the woods.

Mark began to walk back toward the truck with the guide, the guide stopping to urinate in the woods. At this point Mark walked towards the van, ahead of the guide, in dark clothing without an orange hunting hat or vest to improve his visibility. At 7:55 pm (NT) As he emerged from the woods, Mary Beth told police that she saw a dark shape that she believed was a black bear, and fired using her armed rifle. What she shot was not a black bear however, but was instead her husband Mark. When he was shot, Mark Harshbarger was approximately 200 feet from the truck in which his wife Mary Beth and two children were seated. In recounting the incident to RCMP officers at the lodge where they were staying immediately after the shooting, Mary Beth said she had looked through the scope twice to make sure what she was seeing really was a bear. She insisted that she had not seen the blue of Mark Harshbarger’s pants, but instead seen the black of a bear.

According to Dr. Nash Denic, the St. John’s, Newfoundland pathologist who autopsied him, Mark Harshberger died of one gunshot wound to the abdomen. Dr. Denic revealed during Mary Beth Harshberger’s trial that Mark would most likely have been leaning over when he was struck by a bullet.

Trial

Following a lengthy investigation, Canadian officials issued charges in April 2008. After several years of appeals, Mary Beth Harshbarger was ordered by U.S. District Judge Thomas I. Vanaskie to surrender to the U.S. Marshals Service by 2pm on May 14, 2010. She was then extradited to Canada to stand trial for criminal negligence in the case of her husband’s shooting in 2006. Mary Beth Harshbarger arrived in Newfoundland on May 17 to face the charges. If convicted, Mary Beth faced a minimum of four years in prison.

Prior to the trial, Mark Harshbarger’s father Leonard Harshbarger was quoted in the media as saying “It isn’t an accident to mistake someone for something else and kill him. That’s a negligent act, and I hope and believe justice will be served”.

Mary Beth Harshbarger was tried in the Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court in Grand Falls-Windsor on a count of criminal negligence. The case was heard without a jury in the courtroom of Justice Richard LeBlanc.

During the trial both Mary Beth and Harshbarger’s family responded emotionally when a video depicting Mark Harshbarger’s body was shown in the courtroom. The video showed Mark Harshbarger’s body on the ground, with a bullet hole visible on the bib of his blue denim overalls.

During a re-enactment that was used as evidence by the defense during the trial, hunting guide Lambert Greene and Reg White owner of the Moosehead Lodge where the Harshbargers stayed during their trip, said what they saw through Harshbarger’s rifle scope looked more animal than human. Police who conducted two re-enactments said that all they could make out through Mary Beth’s rifle scope was a “black mass” and that it was “plausible” that she thought she was aiming at a bear. The prosecution argued that Mary Beth knew her husband was in those woods, and that it was possible he would be emerging from the site at any time, wearing dark clothing.

Mary Beth was found not guilty of criminal negligence causing death in the shooting death of her husband while on their hunting trip outside of Buchans Junction in September 2006. Justice Richard LeBlanc concluded that the Crown had failed to prove Harshbarger displayed a complete disregard for the safety of others, and that the death was “a result of an accident and nothing more."

Controversy

While Mary Beth maintained that she believed she shot at a bear and that her mistake could be attributed to her poor visibility and Mark’s dark clothing, the Harshbarger family has insisted that the shooting was deliberate. They maintain that Mary Beth is an experienced hunter and markswoman who knew exactly what she was looking at that day.

There are reports that Mary Beth had increased her husband Mark’s life insurance not long before the hunting trip. Mary Beth collected on life insurance policies worth $550,000 (US). Mark Harshbarger’s family noted that despite collecting on the policies, Mary Beth failed to post her $200,000 bail.

After Mark Harshbarger’s death from injuries sustained during the shooting incident, his brother Barry Harshbarger moved into the marital home that his brother had shared with Mary Beth. However, when Mary Beth Harshbarger left the home to stand trial in Canada in May 2011, Barry Harshbarger engaged in a relationship with another woman who is now his wife.

Following the trial on November 1, 2011, Mark Harshbarger’s brother Barry Harshbarger obtained a temporary protection from abuse order (PFA) against Mary Beth, citing ‘I am in fear for my life’ due to her unstable behaviour and past violence. In the order Barry Harshbarger wrote that Mary Beth had threatened him by pointing a loaded rifle at him at some point prior to October 18, 2011. Court date has been set for December 2, 2011 after a rescheduling by the judge. The protection order includes Barry's father and siblings and their respective families. Barry also seeks return of 130 guns which he states are his and in Mary Beth Harshbarger's possession. After a contested hearing, the judge found that the evidence was not enough to keep the protective order in place.

In Mary Beth’s defense, Dr. Denic, the pathologist that conducted an autopsy on Mark Harshbarger after his fatal accident concluded that Mark was most likely learning or hunched over when he was struck by the bullet. The issue of his posture was significant to the trial as Mary Beth had steadily maintained that she thought her husband was a black bear. Several witnesses during the trial suggested that it was too dark for any hunter to have shot with confidence.

Media coverage

The shooting incident that ultimately killed Mark Harshbarger and the subsequent trial of his wife Mary Beth Harshbarger have garnered significant media interest. The story was televised by Dateline NBC under the title "As Darkness Fell", The Fifth Estate in a special entitled "Til Death Do Us Part" and Snapped on the Oxygen Network. Outdoor Canada magazine conducted an in-depth investigative report into the story in their Winter 2010 issue entitled ‘Another Fine Day Afield’.

Wikipedia.org


Harshbarger saga ends with no appeal

By Sue Bailey - TheWesternStar.com

October 29, 2010

ST. JOHN’S — It appears the legal saga of a U.S. woman cleared of criminal negligence in the shooting death of her husband in Newfoundland has taken its last turn.

The Crown said Friday it will not appeal the Oct. 1 ruling that found Mary Beth Harshbarger not guilty after firing a single shot that killed her husband Mark four years ago on a hunting trip near Buchans Junction.

The 45-year-old woman from Meshoppen, Pa., always said she thought the “big black thing” she saw through her rifle scope on Sept. 14, 2006, was a bear.

In tragic fact, it was Mark Harshbarger, 42, who died when the blast from the rifle he’d given his wife for Christmas ripped through his abdomen.

Crown attorney Mark Linehan said there aren’t sufficient grounds to challenge the acquittal.

“The Crown can only appeal in Canada if the trial judge makes an error of law,” he said in an interview. “It can’t be on the basis of a dispute over the facts or a disagreement in relation to the interpretation of facts.

“It must be on a question of law alone.”

Linehan said senior lawyers reviewed the file and concluded the judge correctly applied the test for proving criminal negligence causing death, as set down by the Supreme Court of Canada.

“He applied the facts that he accepted to that law, to the test, and determined that the case was not met by the Crown. So therefore, we don’t have the basis for an appeal.”

Justice Richard LeBlanc of the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador found Harshbarger not guilty after a nine-day trial by judge alone.

He blamed “a constellation of unfortunate facts” that led Harshbarger to believe she was shooting at a bear.

With a whoop of celebration and a blast of music, the free woman left the court parking lot just after the verdict in a white Mercedes driven by her defence lawyer.

The victim’s father, Leonard (Lee) Harshbarger, expressed heartbroken disappointment Friday that there will be no appeal.

“I don’t think the whole thing was fair,” said the 77-year-old retired conservation officer. “You shouldn’t be able to shoot and kill somebody and just walk away and say: ’I thought it was an animal.’ There should be consequences.”

His son’s death has bitterly divided the family and estranged Lee Harshbarger from his daughter-in-law and two young grandchildren.

He was in court every day of the trial in Grand Falls-Windsor, N.L., along with his companion Carol, another son and daughter.

“It was wrongful death,” the grieving father said. “Definitely it was wrongful death. But I don’t think that I will file a civil suit.”

Crown attorney Karen O’Reilly had argued that Mary Beth Harshbarger, an avid hunter who described herself as a good shot, ignored the “huge risk” she created when she fired soon after the sun had set.

But LeBlanc ruled that the prosecution failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Harshbarger recklessly ignored the standard of care expected of hunters in such circumstances.

The defence cast the incident as a horrific accident.

LeBlanc concluded that Harshbarger shot that night sometime between 7:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. — when daylight was quickly fading but still within the half-hour after sunset that hunting is allowed.

Harshbarger was standing in the back of a pickup truck, her four-year-old daughter and baby son seated inside the cab, when she fired at what she described as “a big black thing” about 60 metres away.

The judge cited a pathologist’s evidence that Mark Harshbarger was leaning forward when he was hit by a single blast to the abdomen that killed him on the spot.

At the time, the victim was walking along a deeply rutted logging trail overgrown with tall grass. The rough terrain led him to walk in zigzag movements that could well have been mistaken for those of a black bear because he was wearing dark blue clothes and no hunter safety orange gear, the judge ruled.

Moreover, the victim went into the woods with his hunting guide but emerged alone in the dusk when the other man briefly stopped to urinate.

LeBlanc highlighted the testimony of hunting guide Lambert Greene and Reg White, owner of the Moosehead hunting lodge where the Harshbargers had stayed.

Both men are experienced hunters who took part in police re-enactments of the shooting. Both men said that what they saw through Mary Beth Harshbarger’s rifle scope looked more like an animal than a human.

Lee Harshbarger said the judge’s decision sends a dangerous message that it’s OK for hunters to fire on targets that they haven’t clearly identified.

Positively confirming a target before shooting is a cardinal rule of hunting, he said.

He and other family members have publicly said crucial evidence that might have exposed Mary Beth Harshbarger’s state of mind and true intent was never entered in court.

Linehan said the Crown entered whatever evidence was relevant to supporting the specific charge.

“I’m familiar with some of the commentary. And some of the pieces of evidence that have been spoken about in the media wouldn’t be relevant to the charge of criminal negligence causing death.”

Lee Harshbarger says he will always believe that the trial put too much stress on his son’s dark clothing, and not enough on basic hunter safety.

Still, news that there will be no appeal means it’s time for the family to try to move on, he said.

“I guess that’s about as far as we can go. We tried."


Mary Beth Harshbarger found not guilty

TheTelegram.com

October 1, 2010

Mary Beth Harshbarger was found not guilty today of criminal negligence causing death in the shooting death of her husband while on a hunting trip outside Buchans Junction in September 2006.

Harshbarger, 45, from Meshoppen, Pennsylvania, has always claimed she thought her husband — Mark Harshbarger — was a bear.

Justice Richard LeBlanc handed down the verdict this morning in Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court in Grand Falls-Windsor. Harshbarger was extradited to Grand Falls-Windsor earlier this year to answer to the charge.

In a lengthy ruling, Leblanc concluded that the Crown failed to prove Harshbarger displayed a complete disregard for the safety of others, and that the death was “a result of an accident and nothing more.”

Harshbarger did not speak to media following the ruling. Her lawyer, Karl Inder, however, said she simply wanted to return home to be with her children.

Mary Beth, Mark and their two young children, and Mark's brother Barry Harshbarger, were on a hunting trip outside Buchans Junction when Mark was killed Sept. 14, 2006.

The facts of the case state Mary Beth was sitting in the back of a Chevy pickup with her children at her side and armed with a rifle, on a logging road on the evening of Sept. 14, 2006, waiting while Mark and a local hunting guide walked through the nearby spruce woods in the hopes of flushing out a black bear.

At the time, Barry was at a hunter's blind, elsewhere in the wooded area.

The sun had already set, and as Mark and the guide walked back toward the truck, the guide stopped to urinate in the woods. Mark wandered ahead of him, in dark clothing, without an orange hunting hat or vest. As he emerged from the clearing, Mary Beth told police she saw a dark shape that she believed was a bear, and fired.

The Harshbarger family, including three of Mark's siblings, has insisted for years the shooting was deliberate. They say Mary Beth is an experienced hunter and an expert markswoman who knew precisely what she was looking at that day.


Hunter leaning when shot by wife, N.L. trial told

Widow, father both overcome as video of dead hunter shown

CBC.ca

September 20, 2010

A U.S. hunter who was shot to death by his wife in central Newfoundland may have been hunched over when a single bullet took his life, a trial has been told.

Mary Beth Harshbarger, 45, is being tried in Grand Falls-Windsor for criminal negligence causing death in the September 2006 shooting of her husband, Mark Harshbarger, 42.

Dr. Nash Denic, the St. John's pathologist who did the autopsy on Mark Harshbarger, told a Supreme Court trial Monday that Harshbarger died of one gunshot wound to the abdomen.

Denic told the trial that it appears that Harshbarger was leaning over when he was struck by a bullet. The issue of his posture is significant to the trial, as Mary Beth Harshbarger has steadily maintained she thought her husband was a black bear.

"If he was leaning over, trying to pick his way through rough ground, he would have looked even smaller and hunched over than he would have normally looked," said CBC News reporter David Zelcer, who is covering the trial.

Justice Richard LeBlanc has already been told the shot was fired under darkening skies. Several witnesses have said it was too dark for any hunter to have shot with confidence.

Emotional response

Meanwhile, a video depicting Mark Harshbarger's body was shown Monday to the courtroom, prompting an emotional response among the Harshbarger family.

Many people in the courtroom wept as the video showed Mark Harshbarger's body on the ground, a bullet hole evident on the bib of his blue denim overalls. Mary Beth Harshbarger held her head in her hands, her face turning red and choking back tears.

Leonard Harshbarger, her estranged father-in-law, averted his eyes from the screen, while Mark's sister, Sharon, sat quietly and sobbed.

Cpl. Doug Eady testified as the video, which was made a day after Mark Harshbarger was killed, was entered into evidence.

Eady was also involved in a re-enactment that police had organized a year after the shooting, the second such re-enactment that RCMP organized to determine if there was enough evidence to charge the Pennsylvania woman. The first re-enactment was held days later, under similar light conditions.

Darkness cited in testimony

Mark Harshbarger was shot while walking through tall grasses by a wooded area, while he and a guide were looking for moose or bear. Mary Beth Harshbarger remained by a truck with the couple's two small children, and was expected to keep watch for any animals that may have bolted from the woods.

On Friday, LeBlanc — who is hearing the case without a jury — heard evidence about Mary Beth Harshbarger's state of mind immediately after the fatal shooting.

Stephen Mulrooney, who worked as a cook at the lodge that had booked the Harshbarger family, described Mary Beth Harshbarger as being in what he called a trance the night of the shooting.

"I shot my beloved, I shot my husband, my whole world," Mulrooney quoted Harshbarger as saying when she arrived at the lodge less than a half hour after the shooting.

Mulrooney said that while they waited for more RCMP officers to arrive, Harshbarger repeated the account to him and elaborated. He said she told him that she had seen a bear at the edge of the woods and that she looked through the scope twice and she was sure it was a bear and she fired.

He testified that she told him she didn't see the blue of Mark Harshbarger's pants, but that she had seen the black of a bear.

Mulrooney said Mary Beth Harshbarger was fairly calm that night, although he said she looked agitated and visibly upset.


Hunters must ID target before firing, trial told

CBC.ca

September 17, 2010

A Newfoundland and Labrador conservation officer said Thursday that hunters are taught not to fire unless they have no doubt about their target, while testifying at the trial of a U.S. woman who shot her husband four years ago.

Mary Beth Harshbarger, 45, is on trial in Grand Falls-Windsor for criminal negligence causing death for killing her husband, Mark Harshbarger, 42, on the evening of Sept. 14, 2006.

Harshbarger has maintained since the incident happened that she thought her husband was a bear when she shot him.

"[You] have to be absolutely sure of your target before you shoot. If you're not certain of your target don't shoot," said conservation officer Chris Baldwin, who was called as a witness on hunter education and safety.

Harshbarger used a scope to find her target in 2006.

Baldwin said identifying an object using a riflescope is not recommended. Hunters are taught to use binoculars to identify possible targets.

An RCMP officer testified Wednesday that he could not understand why Harshbarger decided to fire a rifle in dark conditions.

Cpl. Doug Hewitt described how he supervised a re-enactment, which attempted to recreate the lighting conditions on the evening of the shooting.

Hewitt staged the re-enactment two nights after the shooting happened, at about 7:55 p.m., the same time as the shooting. The lighting conditions were the same, well after the sun had set for the evening.

"Given the scenario Mary Beth Harshbarger presented, it was plausible she had mistook her husband to be a bear," Hewitt told Justice Richard LeBlanc of the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador Wednesday.

The Crown alleges that Harshbarger, a resident of rural Pennsylvania, should be convicted for not ensuring that she was shooting at a black bear when she fired her rifle.


Don't know why U.S. hunter shot at night: Mountie

CBC.ca

September 15, 2010

An RCMP officer testified Wednesday he could not understand why an American woman decided to fire a rifle in dark conditions four years ago in central Newfoundland.

Mary Beth Harshbarger is being tried in Grand Falls-Windsor for criminal negligence causing death in the September 2006 hunting accident that killed her husband, Mark Harshbarger.

Testifying at her trial Wednesday, Cpl. Doug Hewitt described how he supervised a re-enactment, which attempted to recreate the lighting conditions on the evening of Sept. 14, 2006.

Harshbarger, 45, has maintained from the start that she thought her husband was a bear when she fired a fatal shot into brush.

Hewitt staged a re-enactment two nights later at about 7:55 p.m., the same time as the shooting. The lighting conditions were the same, and were well after the sun had set for the evening.

"Given the scenario Mary Beth Harshbarger presented … it was plausible she had mistook her husband to be a bear," Hewitt told Justice Richard LeBlanc of the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Too dark for certainty

However, Hewitt said it was too dark to be certain of anything.

"I don't know why anyone would fire given the lighting conditions," Hewitt said.

"Even with [the rifle's] scope, I couldn't pick out a definite shape except for a black mass."

Court was told that the skies were otherwise clear.

On Tuesday, the owner of the hunting lodge that had booked the Harshbargers' hunting vacation testified that he thought the mass he saw in the scope of a rifle resembled an animal. In fact, it was an RCMP officer who stood in the same location where Mark Harshbarger, 42, was shot.

As well, Hewitt testified that when he went to the scene the morning after the shooting, he saw two sets of footprints — one leading to where Harshbarger was shot and the other where hunting guide Lambert Greene had walked.

Hewitt said he could not see any tracks or signs of an animal in the immediate area.

The Crown alleges that Harshbarger, a resident of rural Pennsylvania, should be convicted for not ensuring that she was shooting at a black bear when she fired her rifle.


Hunter's trial told re-enactment results unsure

CBC.ca

September 15, 2010

A veteran lodge owner in central Newfoundland, testifying at the trial of a U.S. hunter who killed her husband, said a police officer looked more like a bear when observed through a rifle scope in a reenactment.

Reg White testified Tuesday at the trial of Mary Beth Harshbarger, a Pennsylvania resident who fatally shot her husband, Mark Harshbarger, during a hunting trip to Newfoundland in 2006.

Testifying four years to the day after Mark Harshbarger was killed, White, who owned the hunting lodge that served the couple, said he was unsure of a target the RCMP created during a subsequent re-enactment.

"[He] resembled an animal," White, who owns Moosehead Lodge, told Justice Richard LeBlanc. "With the grass [so high], it didn't look like a man to me."

White told the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador trial that he has hunted for more than 50 years and killed more than 100 black bears during that time.

Criminal negligence charge

Mary Beth Harshbarger is on trial in Grand Falls-Windsor on a charge of criminal negligence causing death. She has maintained since the Sept. 14, 2006, incident that she thought she was shooting a bear.

Asked by defence lawyer Karl Inder what the object he observed in the re-enactment looked like, White answered: "A black bear."

The shooting happened in darkness. Court has already been told that Mark Harshbarger was walking through tall grass when he was shot, while a guide had gone to another area to urinate. Mary Beth Harshbarger had stayed at a pickup truck with the couple's two young children.

The Crown is claiming she did not appropriately ensure she was shooting a bear.

Leonard Harshbarger, the victim's father, said outside court that he still cannot understand how such a mistake could be made.

"Being such a short distance range, I continually wonder how could that happen, that a man was mistaken for a bear at just 60 metres, I think it was," he said. "I would like to see the site first-hand."

If convicted, Mary Beth Harshbarger, who strenuously fought the extradition order that brought her to Canada in May, faces a prison sentence of at least four years.


Orange vests not worn, U.S. hunter's trial told

CBC.ca

September 14, 2010

An American whose wife shot him to death four years ago during a hunting trip in central Newfoundland was not wearing an orange vest or hat, a trial has been told.

Pennsylvania resident Mary Beth Harshbarger, 44, is being tried in Grand Falls-Windsor on a charge of criminal negligence causing death in the September 2006 shooting of her husband, Mark Harshbarger, 43.

Lambert Greene, the guide who took the Harshbargers and Mark Harshbarger's brother to Buchans Junction to hunt black bear, told the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador during cross-examination that several things were done improperly during the hunting trip.

For instance, no one on the hunting trip wore orange vests that are intended to help hunters be visible to others. Although it is not legally required, Greene said he now insists that such vests or caps be worn.

Mark Harshbarger was shot the evening of Sept. 14, 2006, as the skies darkened.

Mary Beth Harshbarger has always maintained she thought she was shooting a bear when she fired a rifle at her husband. The sun had been setting as they finished that day's hunt.

Greene also told Justice Richard LeBlanc that he had left Mary Beth Harshbarger with the couple's two small children in a truck while he accompanied Mark Harshbarger. Guides are not supposed to leave hunters unattended.

Regulations also say that each guide can have two non-resident hunters. Greene had three people with him, including Barry Harshbarger, Mark Harshbarger's brother.

Wouldn't shoot if risky: guide

In a re-creation organized by the RCMP, Greene looked through the scope of a rifle and said it was too dark to tell what he was looking at. If he was not sure of his target, he would not risk a shot, he said.

If convicted, Mary Beth Harshbarger, who was brought to Canada under an extradition order in May, faces a minimum prison sentence of four years.

Her father-in-law, Leonard Harshbarger, has travelled to Newfoundland to observe the trial. He said he found listening to Monday's testimony — which included Greene's description of hearing the shot that killed his son — very difficult.

"It was very hard when he said about when the shot was fired and he heard the scream," he said. "It was very hard for me."

He said he came to Canada to see that justice is served in his son's death.


Guide describes fatal shot in U.S. hunter's trial

CBC.ca

September 13, 2010

An American woman on trial in central Newfoundland for shooting her husband to death in 2006 became hysterical when she learned of her husband's death, a court was told Monday.

Lambert Greene, who acted as a guide for Mark and Mary Beth Harshbarger during a September 2006 hunting trip to Buchans Junction, told a Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador trial that he was helping Mark Harshbarger look for bears when he heard a shot and then a "loud scream."

Greene, who had stopped to urinate at the time, told the court he called out to Mary Beth Harshbarger, who was back at a pickup truck.

"'Did you shoot your rifle?'" Greene testified he called out.

"She said yes. I said, 'What did you shoot at?' She said, 'I shot at a bear. Did I get him?' I said, 'No, you got Mark.'"

Mary Beth Harshbarger's trial on a charge of criminal negligence causing death began in Grand Falls-Windsor on Monday, on the eve of the fourth anniversary of her husband's death. If convicted, the 44-year-old woman faces a minimum prison sentence of four years.

Greene testified that he found Mark Harshbarger, 43, lying facedown on the ground after he heard the shot. He said he turned Harshbarger over, checked him for vital signs and found none.

'No, he's dead'

After he walked to the truck, Greene testified, Mary Beth Harshbarger asked him whether her husband was all right.

"I said, 'No, he's dead,'" Greene testified.

"Mary Beth was hysterical," he said, describing how she moved around the road. "I shot my husband, I shot my love," Greene quoted her as saying.

While Greene testified, Mary Beth Harshbarger began to cry.

Harshbarger, a resident of Pennsylvania, was brought to Canada in May on an extradition order that she fought for almost two years.

Harshbarger had been allowed to leave Canada in 2006. Mark Harshbarger's family had demanded that charges be laid in the case. RCMP investigators later did two re-creations of the incident and ultimately alleged that it was too dark on the evening of the shooting for Harshbarger to have properly identified her target.

Harshbarger has been in custody since May. Although she won bail, she has not posted the necessary $200,000.

Mark Harshbarger's family, who have noted that Mary Beth Harshbarger collected on life insurance policies worth $550,000 US, will attend the two-week trial.


U.S. woman charged in hunting death in N.L. court

CBC.ca

May 19, 2010

One of the two charges against an American woman accused of killing her husband while on a hunting trip in central Newfoundland was withdrawn on Tuesday morning during a brief court appearance in Grand Falls-Windsor.

Mary Beth Harshbarger is charged with shooting her husband, Mark Harshbarger, 43, in 2006 while they were hunting near Buchans Junction.

She has repeatedly said she thought he was a bear.

Harshbarger was charged with criminal negligence causing death and careless use of a firearm, but is now only facing the first charge.

"It was almost two years before charges were laid. Mark's family has always accused her of shooting him intentionally," said CBC News reporter David Zelcer.

Zelcer reports that the family says Harshbarger is an expert marksman and she recently had her husband increase his life insurance policy.

"In fact, after a court fight, she did get more than $500,000 from the insurance companies. The police recreated what happened and in 2008 they laid the charges against her."

She fought extradition to Canada to face the charges for years, but eventually surrendered to police in Scranton, Penn., at 2 p.m. ET on Friday.

Mark Harshbarger's brother, Dean, told a U.S. television station he's happy to see progress is finally being made.

The Crown withdrew the one charge, saying Harshbarger can only be tried on the charge she was specifically extradited to face.


Court documents reveal new details in Harshbarger case

CBC.ca

March 6, 2009

Court documents obtained by CBC News show new details about what a hunting guide saw the evening a Pennsylvania woman shot her husband in the woods of central Newfoundland.

A U.S. federal judge ordered Mary Beth Harshbarger, of Meshoppen, Pa., extradited to Newfoundland Thursday, where she is to face charges of criminal negligence causing death in the September 2006 death of her husband, Mark Harshbarger.

Harshbarger shot her husband while on a hunting trip near Buchan's Junction. She claims it was an accident.

According to a U.S. affidavit, hunting guide Lambert Greene, from Tilting, said that during the evening shortly after sunset he had stopped to urinate when he heard a shot and a scream.

About 60 metres from where Greene was standing, Mary Beth Harshbarger had fired a shot from the back of a pickup truck at her husband. She later told police she believed her husband was a bear.

Greene told police that Harshbarger was upset and said she'd "shot her love."

Police re-enact scene

During the police investigation, officers twice re-enacted the shooting to determine what Harshbarger could have seen that evening.

One investigator reported all he could see through Harshbarger's scope was a "dark mass," while another investigator reported that he would not have been sure enough to take the shot.

According to the court documents, Harshbarger described what she fired at that evening as being a "big black thing." But she also said that she should not have taken the shot, given it was too dark at the time.

Harshbarger has until March 13 to turn herself into authorities. Once she surrenders, RCMP will travel to Pennsylvania to escort her back to Canada.

 

 

 
 
 
 
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