Nfld. & Labrador

Wanted over husband's shooting death, U.S. woman wins insurance battle

An American woman who is awaiting an extradition hearing to face Canadian charges in her husband's shooting death has won a legal battle over his life insurance policy.

An American woman who is awaiting an extradition hearing to face Canadian charges in her husband's shooting death has won a legal battle over his life insurance policy.

Mary Beth Harshbarger, a Pennsylvania resident, has been charged with criminal negligence causing death and careless use of a firearm following the September 2006 shooting death of her husband in central Newfoundland.

Harshbarger has admitted to authorities she shot her husband, Mark Harshbarger, 43, but that she mistook him for a bear in the darkness. They were hunting in brush near Buchans Junction.

Before the RCMP in Newfoundland and Labrador laid charges in the incident, Harshbarger had tried to collect on her husband's death benefits from two life insurance policies.

The companies refused to pay because of the police investigation. Legislation in Pennsylvania says a person cannot benefit if he or she intentionally takes someone's life.

Harshbarger sued in U.S. federal court and has prevailed. The policies are worth US $550,000.

Her lawyer, Robert Murphy, declined a recorded interview with CBC News, but said he successfully argued that the Canadian charges involve non-intentional acts.

Murphy said what happened near Buchans Junction was a horrible accident, not a crime.

In February, a U.S. district court judge in Pennsylvania will review the case when he is asked to rule on whether Harshbarger should be extradited to Canada to face the criminal charges.