Mary Beth Harshbarger, seen before a court appearance in June, is charged with criminal negligence causing death. ((CBC))

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.

Harshbarger has attracted considerable media attention. CBC's The Fifth Estate, CTV's W5 and NBC's Dateline are among those working on the story.