LAPEER (AP/WWJ) — A couple charged with second-degree murder after their two dogs fatally mauled a Michigan jogger agreed Friday to give up ownership of the animals and have them euthanized.
Valbona Lucaj and husband Sebastiano Quagliata signed the agreement with Lapeer County authorities on the same day they appeared in court on charges related to the death of Craig Sytsma, 46, of Livonia.
He was attacked by two cane corsos on July 23 in Metamora Township, 45 miles northwest of Detroit. The agreement says the dogs and a third cane corso will be killed as soon as possible.
The dogs have been in custody along with eight puppies. The puppies will be offered to an animal rescue group.
Bond was set at $500,000 each. They face live in prison if convicted.
Federal authorities say Quagliata and Lucaj are living in the U.S. illegally and were facing imminent deportation at the time of the attack, according to a report in the Detroit Free Press. Lucaj is a native of Albania and Quagliata is from Italy. Both have been in the U.S. since the late 1990s.
As for how their citizenship status may impact court proceedings, WWJ Legal Analyist Charlie Langton says the law is clear: If they are convicted of a crime, they will do their time here first, and then get shipped off. “Criminal courts take precedent over the immigration courts,” he said.
Quagliata’s attorney, Jason Malkiewicz, says his client still retains his green card and has no criminal history.
It was unclear if the pair would post bond.
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