CENTRE COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — A Bellefonte man is accused of threatening a witness listed in a search warrant that landed him in jail on a gun charge.
James Ertwine, 59, was denied bail Thursday by Magisterial District Judge Casey McClain at his arraignment on charges that include felony counts of intimidation of a witness or victim, retaliation against a witness or victim, and ethnic intimidation.
Ertwine is accused of sending text messages that contained a death threat and other intimidating language as well as an ethnic slur to a witness in a Ferguson Township investigation involving a building and vehicle that were shot up with a gun, according to the charges.
Ertwine was out on a $50,000 bail bond for state police gun and drug charges filed in late July after a search of Ertwine’s Fishburn Hill Road allegedly turned up an illegal gun – a short-barrel AR-15 with no identifying markings – and methamphetamine.
That search was part of the Ferguson Township investigation and on January 11, Ertwine allegedly sent a witness named in the search warrant a photo of the document.
Ertwine allegedly used a racial slur when referring to the witness and told the person “You are dead” while also calling them a sell-out.
Police also allege Ertwine’s messages contained language such as, “This is why I am where I am” and “Thank you for not just saying, ‘I don’t know,’” that gave the witness the impression Ertwine was telling them they should not have spoken to police.
Ertwine remains in Centre County Correctional Facility with a preliminary hearing scheduled for January 27.