James Carlo Quisenberry

James Carlo Quisenberry

There were two judges in a courtroom Monday afternoon in Washington County Court, one presiding at a bond revocation hearing and the other named as a victim.

After hearing testimony, Senior Judge Gerald R. Solomon sent to jail the man who stands accused of threatening Judge Valarie Costanzo.

James Carlo Quisenberry, 47, of McMurray, was charged in March with four misdemeanors: two counts of harassment by communication, making terroristic threats, and stalking Costanzo.

As a condition of his $5,000 unsecured bond, he was to stay out of trouble and signed documents to that effect.

But the day before his preliminary hearing, a confrontation involving Quisenberry and a teenager occurred at a Peters Township sandwich shop.

Deputy Attorney General Evan A. Lowry II called as a witness Susan Lutz, owner of the 505 Valley Brook Road Subway eatery.

During a busy lunchtime on May 29, she described how she was behind the counter when she said a man she identified as Quisenberry “kind of flew across the restaurant,” lifting up a younger man and throwing him against a rack of chip bags and then into a table.

“They started fighting together,” Lutz testified, mentioning that type of commotion had never occurred in the 18 years since the store opened. Quisenberry left the shop and phoned her the next day to apologize, she said.

That victim, who was described in a police report as being between 17 and 19, was not in court Monday, nor was he identified during the hearing.

Peters Township Police Officer Conor P. Wolfarth on June 3 filed a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct against Quisenberry, who testified in court Monday that he acted in self-defense.

He said he was checking his cellphone “about the Pirates’ most recent debacle” when he and the teenager exchanged words and the teenager spat at him and threatened to kill him.

“I was in traumatic shock,” Quisenberry testified under direct examination by his attorney Alexander H. Lindsay of Butler. “That’s when I left.”

Lowry questioned him about the confrontation and why he did not notify the probation officer who handles pretrial services.

“I didn’t think self-defense would be criminal behavior,” Quisenberry replied.

Lowry called Quisenberry “a danger to the public and Ms. Costanzo” in asking that bond be revoked.

Lindsay noted that the teenager did not testify on Monday, and that Lutz testified the older and younger men were punching each other.

The defense attorney argued that the prosecution had chosen “the most draconian option” in requesting that Quisenberry be sent to jail, awaiting trial for months when, in the event of a conviction, he would likely receive a probationary sentence.

“If the court wants to modify this bond, I would understand,” Lindsay told Solomon. “I’m asking, I’m begging you, please do not put this man in jail.”

Solomon did not heed Lindsay, ruling that “in a matter of weeks, the defendant found himself again on the wrong side of the law” and ordered sheriff’s deputies to escort Quisenberry to the county jail to await trial.

At the time Cecil Township police charged Quisenberry in March, he was described as Costanzo’s ex-boyfriend.

Police said they were able to link Quisenberry’s phone number to numerous threatening calls made to Costanzo, a Cecil resident, between August and January.

In early September, Costanzo reported to Cecil Township police a voicemail she received in which the caller threatened to cut out her tongue and kill her. She told police she recognized the voice to be Quisenberry’s, according to the criminal complaint. Police said four other witnesses who heard the voicemail also recognized his voice.

Costanzo filed a protection-from-abuse petition against Quisenberry in November 2017, which was later dismissed. He filed a PFA against her in July 2018, which was later dismissed and expunged.

Staff Writer

Staff Writer Barbara S. Miller is a graduate of Washington & Jefferson College. She covers Washington County government, courts and general assignments.

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