AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) — A 68-year-old Mount Solon woman who shot her great-nephew in the leg last year will serve three years in prison.
Mary F. Puffenbarger was convicted of malicious wounding this past April in Augusta County Circuit Court.
In 2018, Chris Huffer, her neighbor and great-nephew, came to Puffenbarger's home looking for his dog. He told the court words were exchanged – Commonwealth's Attorney Tim Martin described it as an "unpleasant conversation."
It followed a history of a poor relationship between the two.
During her testimony, Puffenbarger said Huffer threatened her during the conversation, and she was afraid. She then went back inside the house. Huffer told the court that he did not threaten her during that conversation, but he said Puffenbarger said it was her right to shoot the dog if it was on her property.
Huffer called law enforcement for advice on what to do about the missing dog, and said law enforcement advised Huffer that he could knock on her door.
When he and his daughter went back to Puffenbarger's house, where Huffer told the court he called for the dog, Puffenbarger was outside, yelling for them to get off her property.
Both Huffer and his daughter said Puffenbarger did not give them any time to leave before she shot Huffer in the leg.
During her testimony, Puffenbarger said she had the gun because she had seen a groundhog in her yard earlier, and was going to wait for it. She said when she came around to the front of her house, she said she saw Huffer in her yard with his daughter. Puffenbarger said Huffer approached her, and she tried to shoot at his feet in a warning.
After the shooting, she called 911 to report that she had shot Huffer. Attorneys described her demeanor as a calm and matter-of-fact when she told dispatchers what had happened. Her defense attorney said she said she was scared during the 911 call, and that Huffer had threatened her previously.
Ultimately, the judge said it was not reasonable for her to use a gun to defend herself because the 40-year-old man was unarmed.
On August 13, Puffenbarger was sentenced to 10 years in prison, but seven years were suspended. She was given 10 years of probation following her prison term, with two of the years supervised.
Throughout the trial process, she has been under house arrest with electronic monitoring.