Mary Beth Harshbarger speeks to her lawyer after being found not guilty in Grand Falls-Windsor this morning. — Transcontinental Media photo
Mark and a guide were walking out of the woods to meet up with Mary Beth and the children when the guide stopped to relieve himself. That’s when she fired the gun, claiming she saw a dark mass in the trees and thought it was a bear.
Mark died of a single bullet wound to the abdomen.
He had been wearing dark clothing at the time.
Initially, the RCMP considered it to be a tragic accident. But later they introduced charges of criminal negligence causing death following a trip officers made to Pennsylvania.
Mary Beth fought the extradition process, but eventually lost and was returned to Newfoundland to face charges in June.
In his ruling at Grand Falls-Windsor Supreme Court, LeBlanc said he considered all of the evidence, including the lighting at the time the shooting occurred, the terrain and Mary Beth’s description of the “black mass” she mistook for a bear when she looked through her rifle scope.
The judge said it was reasonable to conclude that she could have mistaken her husband for a bear. He called the death an accident with consequences that have affected the entire family.
LeBlanc also said “the human condition (is) such” that people cannot act perfectly.
Inder said his client just wants to go home to the States to be with her children.
Meanwhile, Crown prosecutor Karen O’Reilly says an appeal has not been ruled out.
It must be filed within 30 days.
“What the Crown’s attorney’s office would do would be to review the decision and make any decisions from there,” she said.
The trial had attracted significant media interest from across Canada and the United States, and was being watched closely by members of Mark’s family, many of whom had contended the shooting was intentional.
Mary Beth had been in custody since June, when she was granted bail but did not post the required surety.