US hunter who says she mistook husband for a bear on trial in Canada

GRAND FALLS-WINDSOR, Newfoundland (AP) — The trial of an American woman who said she shot and killed her husband because she thought he was a bear began in Eastern Canada on Monday.

Lambert Greene, a hunting guide, testified at the first day of the trial that Mary Beth Harshbarger became hysterical after the shooting.

Harshbarger told authorities that she mistook her 42-year-old husband for a bear while the two were hunting in central Newfoundland in 2006. She has pleaded not guilty.

Canadian officials have charged her with criminal negligence causing death. They say it was too dark to fire a gun safely.

If convicted, the 45-year-old homemaker from Pennsylvania faces four years to life in prison.

Greene said that he and Mark Harshbarger were making their way back from the brush toward Greene's pickup truck when the shot was fired.

"Mark proceeded on toward the truck. Then I heard a shot. After the shot, I heard a loud scream," he testified.

Greene said he soon reached Mark lying face down on the ground, his coveralls stained with blood.

"There was no sign of life. I got up and I looked towards the truck. Mary Beth was standing up by the side of the truck then. I called out: 'Did you shoot your rifle?' And she said: 'Yes.'

"I said: 'What did you shoot at?'

Mary Beth Harshbarger asked Greene where Mark was, he told the court.

"I said: 'Mark is in there.' She asked me if he was OK. I said: 'No. He's dead.' "

Greene said Mary Beth Harshbarger became "hysterical."

"She danced around the road. 'I shot my husband. I shot my love.'"

He said the couple's little girl, who was four at the time, then got out of the vehicle where she was with her brother.

"I guess she heard us talking," Greene said. "She started crying. Mary Beth took her in her arms, trying to comfort her."

Greene said he wasn't sure of the exact time the shot was fired but said it was shortly after sunset. He testified that he saw no bear or other animal in the area.

Harshbarger sipped water, looked down and wiped her eyes as Greene testified.

Mark's father, Lee Harshbarger, dabbed his eyes with tissue during the testimony.

The prosecution is expected to call 16 witnesses during the trial, which is scheduled for two weeks.

Harshbarger surrendered to Canadian authorities after a lengthy court battle against extradition.