Couple whose dogs fatally mauled jogger charged with second-degr - FOX 32 News Chicago

Couple whose dogs fatally mauled jogger charged with second-degree murder

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(WJBK) - The owners of the two dogs that fatally mauled a man faced a judge Friday.

Forty-five-year-old Sabastiano Quagliata and 44-year-old Valbona Lucaj appeared in court to be arraigned for second-degree murder. Both were sent to jail on half a million dollars bond.

Meanwhile, loved ones gathered for the funeral of Craig Sytsma. The 46-year-old father of three was attacked and mauled by the couple's two Cane Corsos, an Italian breed of dog that can weigh up to 110 pounds.

Lucaj's attorney says the couple was over charged. The pair face up to life in prison. They're also charged with harboring a dangerous dog causing death, a 15-year felony.

The prosecutor says there were previous attacks and complaints involving the dogs and the owners are responsible. There's also a question about whether the couple is legally in this country.

According to federal court records, investigators believe Valbona bribed an immigration official into recommending asylum. They've been fighting deportation since 2005 but that process has not yet started.

"The law is very clear. If they are convicted of a crime, they will do their time here first - then get shipped off. Criminal courts take precedent over the immigration courts," says Fox 2 legal analyst Charlie Langton.

An order was signed Friday turning the two dogs involved in the attack and one other adult dog over to Lapeer County Animal Control. They may be destroyed immediately. Efforts will be made to find a rescue group to take in seven puppies in the next 60 days.

The puppies will be sterilized and tattooed so they can be tracked. The criminal case against the couple will move forward before the immigration case is heard. They're due back in court next week.

Copyright 2014 by The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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