LAPEER (AP/WWJ) — A veterinarian has testified at a court hearing for a Michigan couple that they were told their dogs were “dangerous” a few months before a jogger was mauled to death near their home.
Sherrey Wallace told a Lapeer District Court judge Friday that she warned 45-year-old Sebastiano Quagliata and his 44-year-old wife, Valbona Lucaj, the two cane corsos “were very aggressive” after they tried to bite her during a routine examination in April.
Quagliata and Lucaj are charged with second-degree murder in the July 23 death of 46-year-old Craig Sytsma. Sytsma was attacked by the dogs as he ran in Lapeer County’s Metamora Township, about 45 miles northwest of Detroit.
The dogs were later euthanized.
The hearing, which will determine if the couple will stand trial, will resume Aug. 29.
Authorities said was it the third attack by Quagliata and Lucaj’s dogs in the past two years. The couple was apparently breeding dogs at their property, officials said.
Bond was set at $500,000 each. They face life 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 Analyst 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.
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