Troy man gets PFA order against woman who killed his brother
TOWANDA - A 55-year-old Troy man has succeeded in obtaining a temporary protection-from-abuse order against the Meshoppen woman who killed his brother in 2006.
"I am in fear for my life," due to the unstable behavior and past violent actions of Mary Beth Harshbarger of Meshoppen, Barry Lee Harshbarger of Hanks Road wrote in his petition for the order, which he filed Tuesday afternoon at the Bradford County Courthouse in Towanda.
Mary Beth Harshbarger was acquitted last fall of criminal negligence after killing her husband, Mark Harshbarger, on Sept. 14, 2006, while on a hunting trip in Newfoundland, Canada. She said she mistook him for a bear.
In his petition, Barry Harshbarger wrote that Mary Beth Harshbarger had threatened him by pointing a loaded rifle at him. At that time, Mary Beth Harshbarger "said it would be harder to explain the second time she shot a family member." Barry Harshbarger wrote in his petition.
Barry Harshbarger did not say in his petition when and where he was threatened with the rifle, although he indicates in the petition that it occurred at some point prior to Oct. 18.
Bradford County Court Judge Maureen Beirne granted the temporary PFA order later on Tuesday afternoon, and set a hearing on the matter for Nov. 15. After the hearing, Judge Beirne will decide whether a full PFA should be granted against Mary Beth Harshbarger.
The temporary PFA order bars the 45-year-old Mary Beth Harshbarger from having any contact with Barry Harshbarger, bars her from possessing any guns, and orders her to relinquish all of her guns within 24 hours. The temporary PFA order went into effect immediately and will continue to be in effect until it is terminated by the court.
This is the second petition for a protection-from-abuse order that Barry Harshbarger had filed against Mary Beth Harshbarger since Oct. 18.
The first of the two PFA petitions, which Barry Harshbarger filed on Oct. 18, did not contain some of the allegations that are in his later petition, including the incident in which he was allegedly threatened with the rifle.
Based on the Oct. 18 petition, a Bradford County Court judge had refused to grant a temporary PFA order against Mary Beth Harshbarger, but scheduled a hearing on the matter for Tuesday, Nov. 1.
At the beginning of the Nov. 1 hearing, Judge Beirne announced that she could not conduct the hearing at that time, because she was in the middle of a custody trial, so the hearing, with the consent of Barry and Mary Beth Harshbarger, was postponed to Dec. 2.
It was after the hearing was postponed that Barry Harshbarger filed his second petition for a PFA order.
During the brief court proceeding on Nov. 1, no one - including the judge or Barry Harshbarger - had mentioned the option of filing a second petition for a PFA order.
In his Nov. 1 petition, Barry Harshbarger said that the most recent incident of abuse had occurred on Oct. 18 at his residence, when Mary Beth Harshbarger "screamed and yelled," and was "driving erratically."
During the Oct. 18 incident, Mary Beth Harshbarger "set watching in front of (the) front door of (my) residence. Felt threatened by her out of control actions and presence."
Barry Harshbarger also wrote in his Nov. 1 petition that Mary Beth Harshbarger had, in the past, "threatened to 'get me' for telling of drug use."
He said in his Nov. 1 petition that Mary Beth Harshbarger possesses 45 rifles and pistols.
In his Nov. 1 petition, Barry Harshbarger admits that he is a "former sexual or intimate partner with Defendant."
After Mark Harshbarger's death, Barry Harshbarger moved into the Meshoppen residence to help care for his late brother's two children.
However, after Mary Beth Harshbarger left to stand trial in Canada in May 2010, Barry Harshbarger engaged in a relationship with another woman who is now his wife.
James Loewenstein can be reached at (570) 265-1633; or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.