Jury considers animal cruelty charges filed against Rostraver chiropractor

Sept. 23 – A Westmoreland County jury continued its deliberations Wednesday night on the animal cruelty case against a Rostraver chiropractor who was charged with shooting a dog in Monessen two years ago.

During the three-day trial, prosecutors said James Scirotto, 48, ruthlessly fired up to seven shots from a .40 caliber Glock he carried in a hip holster as the dog approached family and friends attending his mother-in-law’s 70th birthday party arrived on October 1st, 2019.

The jury began deliberations shortly after 3 p.m.

Scirotto is on trial on two charges of aggravated animal cruelty, animal cruelty for misdemeanor, reckless endangerment and improper behavior, and an offense of public drunkenness.

Scirotto claimed he believed he should shoot the dog to defend his family and neighbors.

“This dog was after us,” said Scirotto on Wednesday.

He said, “Honda,” the mixed breed Labrador, ran into the party, growled, barked and threatened to attack. He said he believed the dog bit his wife and attacked a neighbor on her porch.

He testified that he approached the dog, pointed the gun at the ground and fired four shots before running away.

The dog returned minutes later, Scirotto told the jury. He said that as Honda got closer, the dog showed its teeth, growled, and was about to throw itself when Scirotto fired two more shots and injured the dog’s left hind leg. The dog was operated on and survived.

“I never meant to shoot that dog,” said Scirotto.

In his closing argument to the jury, Assistant District Attorney Adam Barr said Scirotto chased and chased the dog before he fired his gun. Honda has had no history of violence or assault, Barr said.

The dog’s owners claimed the animal was docile and escaped from their back yard where it was chained.

“There was no reason for him (Scirotto) to chase the dog. He’s a cowboy,” Barr said. “They tell you the dog was shot five times and he didn’t run away. Give me a break.”

The story goes on

In his closing argument, defense attorney Christopher Blackwell said Scirotto did the right thing and shot the dog in self-defense. He suggested that the Scirotto case was an overzealous indictment.

“He didn’t chase that dog. That dog chased him,” said Blackwell.

Rich Cholodofsky is a contributor to Tribune Review. You can contact Rich at 724-830-6293, [email protected], or on Twitter.

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