Harshbarger’s a free woman

Sue Hickey
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Negligence charge dismissed against U.S. hunter who killed her husband

Mary Beth Harshbarger speaks to her lawyer after being found not guilty in Grand Falls-Windsor this morning. — Transcontinental Media photo

Mary Beth Harshbarger had no comment for the media but could be heard sobbing in a back room after she was found not guilty in Supreme Court in Grand Falls-Windsor Friday.

Justice Richard LeBlanc said the Crown failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Mary Beth was guilty of criminal negligence causing death when she shot her husband, Mark Harshbarger, to death on Sept. 14, 2006.

LeBlanc called the shooting “a constellation of unfortunate facts,” borrowing a phrase used by defence lawyer Karl Inder several times over the course of Mary Beth’s two-week trial.

LeBlanc’s decision ended the four-year-old court case.

The Harshbargers — both experienced hunters — and their two young children had been in Buchans Junction on a hunting trip from Meshoppen, Pa.

The children were sitting with their mother in the back of an open pickup truck.

Continued on next page ...

Organizations: Supreme Court, RCMP

Geographic location: United States, Buchans Junction, Meshoppen Pennsylvania Newfoundland Canada

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Recent comments

  • Guillieme
    October 03, 2010 - 22:06

    The hunting guide was obviously a rank amateur... he must have been working on one of those well known Newfoundland make work projects to get his stamps. To walk the victim around in the woods at that time of the day with the possiblity of other hunters in the area is gross negligence. He should shoulder much of the blame for this. As to whether is was an accident or intentional, that is between her and God now. If she is guility, she will probably have many sleepless nights living with what she did. "Vengenence is mine" sayeth the Lord. "I will repay" If she is not guilty, then a very sad chapter in her life is finallly getting some closure.

  • canadafirstaid
    October 03, 2010 - 04:19

    Oh please! Enough said. The ruling came down - as not guilty. Now, let's move on, please. cfa.

  • Ise Dabye
    October 02, 2010 - 23:02

    1st off...NFLD's "justice" department unfortunately appears to be a training ground for government lawyers that appear to have few legal skills and appear to have absolutely no problem ruining lives to see what works and what doesnt work(rather than merely using case law like most private lawyers use)...Ms. harshbarger is but the latest example of MANY MANY lives these people turn upside down just to try and further their career...2ndly...this is 2010 PEOPLE !!!!!......can anyone SERIOUSLY say im supposed to feel bad about a person not being correctly seen for a human rather than an animal being hunted when that fool goes in the woods with a gun and doesnt at the very least wear the correct clothing..just like im supposed to feel bad about boaters that in the year 2010 still go out in boats without a survival suit on...some without even a life jacket and then end up getting drowned...obviously accidents happen and no one deserves to die young BUT if your own doing is THE main cause then SORRY...you reap what you sow...lastly...our justices(most anyway) are adept at seeing things within the scope of our laws...its embarrassing that yet another justice department lawyer(s) got this latest FIASCO to the stage that it did..they OBVIOUSLY have learned NOTHING from the Lamer inquiry..surprise...surprise!!!!!!...if not for our learned judges yet another person would be wrongfully imprisoned!!!!

  • Amy Harshbarger Sward
    October 02, 2010 - 20:23

    I guess if I ever want to get away with getting rid of somebody I will just take them to Canada to go "bear" hunting.... although I would NEVER do that... there is such a thing as DIVORCE!

  • c b anstey
    October 02, 2010 - 19:49

    a dead body....semi-darkness....a dark mass.....a smile at her lawyer after the verdict.....(after killing her childrens father....)and there's no evidance of "NEGLECT...????" Shame....on us.....again...!!!

  • Marcella Grail
    October 02, 2010 - 19:38

    I never got how this woman was charged in the first place. There were no witnesses to the incident and it was really only her word that could ever convict her. That's not good enough. Accidents do happen and although I agree she acted recklessly and most people would have jumped into the truck and driven away, maybe she didn't think she had the time to do that. Remember, her kids were in a vulnerable situation, if it was actually a bear coming their way. Also, I often wondered in which direction she was expecting her husband and the guide to return. Did she think they would have arrived in a completely different place? Lots of unanswered questions, but until we have lie detectors that are 100% accurate and the courts allow the results to be used as evidence, there are going to be cases like this one. Do I think she was guilty? Not really, but she could be. All I am saying is that there was never any way to prove it one way or another, so why charge her?

  • My Opinion
    October 02, 2010 - 18:16

    No way should anyone be allowed to shoot another person because of carelessness or whatever else it might have been and just walk away a free woman.There definitely needs to be an appeal of this decision. . What kind of judge could find her not guilty and still sleep at night? Only in Canada! Interesting to read the opinions in lots of other newspapers on the internet.

  • gros morne man
    October 02, 2010 - 16:45

    i've hunted all my life and if u don't kno wat your shootin at don't shoot....DUH but it seems like this woman came i from the u.s shot a man for a so called bear..lol and got off with it and now laughing at the dumb newfoundlanders again, if she seen something she should have bauled out and seen if it was a person or not it could have been someother hunter in the woods as well if she called out for sure they would have spoke.....cuz i don't think bears can talk....but ohh well if that was me shot a cow on a bull license id been in jail before this.......but thats our justice system

  • duke
    October 02, 2010 - 15:04

    This should have been a judge and jury trial.

  • Brenda
    October 02, 2010 - 14:27

    This is a travesty. This woman should not be raising children, especially not the children of the man she killed. Firing a gun into the darkness because you "thought" there was a bear is the height of criminally negligent behavior. Once again, our "in"justice system lets the criminal walk away and doesn't give a damn about the victim.

  • Jan
    October 02, 2010 - 11:55

    I do not know this family personally. Just wondering why his family thought it was intentional..Were there marrital problems? Well, she's free and at least the kids have their mother.

  • Alex Russell
    October 02, 2010 - 11:24

    Sad. The justice system to the rescue of guilty people once again. I am ashamed to be a Newfoundlander.

    October 02, 2010 - 11:07


  • Victoria
    October 02, 2010 - 10:35

    I don't get where the judge is coming from. Firing in the semi-dark from the back of an open vehicle with your two preschoolers sitting next to you. What's more negligent than that?

  • Rick
    October 02, 2010 - 09:28

    It shows that the gun law is not working, registered guns are not able to shoot people.

  • Larry
    October 02, 2010 - 08:31

    I have a problem with this. "Experienced" hunters DO NOT shoot if they cannot see what they're shooting at. Apparently the judge never learned this lesson. Oh yeah, he's likely one of the characters that supports the gun registry as well because he really doesn't know any better.

    • Sal
      October 02, 2010 - 10:18

      And how do you become an "Experienced " hunter? By Trial and Error.

    • Sal
      October 02, 2010 - 10:20

      And how do you become an "Experienced " hunter? By Trial and Error.

  • Anna
    October 02, 2010 - 08:04

    In the photo caption, "speeks" [sic] is spelled incorrectly. It should be spelled "speaks".