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GREAT FALLS (AP) – A Great Falls jury sided with a Cascade woman on Monday, in a wrongful death lawsuit accusing her of shooting her boyfriend nearly three years ago when he broke into her home.

The jury deliberated only 90 minutes before ruling in favor of Darlene Graff, 65, in a civil suit brought by the children of Arthur Dotson.

“We’re pretty upset,” said Ryan Dotson. “Darlene Graff and my father had an ongoing relationship that she lied about on the stand. When she got upset, she threatened to shoot him. When she did shoot him, the circumstances of it happening in her house have allowed her to get away with murder.”

Graff’s attorney, Paul Haffeman, said it was a clear case of self defense. She used an appropriate level of force, firing once and stopping the attack, he said.

Authorities said Graff shot Dotson, 53, on Sept. 27, 1998, when he entered her home late at night. Prosecutors dropped criminal charges against Graff after Dotson’s ex-wife said she suffered physical and sexual abuse throughout her marriage to him.

Defense witnesses said Dotson harassed Graff, calling her dozens of times a day and entered her home without her permission. Graff said he sexually assaulted her, including on the day of the shooting.

The attorney for Dotson’s children, Kirk Evenson, said the pair had a volatile relationship, and that friends saw them getting along at times after the breakup. If Dotson was harassing her so seriously, she should have gotten restraining orders or an unlisted phone number, Evenson said.

The family had sought to recoup the cost of Dotson’s funeral, plus $56,000 they believe he might have earned after taxes and expenses in his lifetime. They also sought compensation for his pain and suffering and the family’s loss of his companionship.

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