Dog Mauling Results in Murder Charge Against Owners

Valbona Lucaj and Sebastiano Quagliata have been charged with second-degree murder after their dogs fatally mauled Craig Sytsma as he jogged through their neighborhood.

Craig Sytsma was jogging in Lapeer, Michigan, when two cane corsos attacked him. The two dogs, along with a third cane corso, will be destroyed as soon as possible. Authorities also confiscated eight cane corso puppies, which will be offered to an appropriate animal rescue group.

Lucaj, 44, an Albania native, and Quagliata, 45, an Italian native, have faced troubles with authorities in the past. Lucaj was involved in a bribery scandal involving an immigration official, though she was not charged. Allegedly, Lucaj and other immigrants bribed a middleman to ensure they would be granted asylum. Both Lucaj and Quagliata faced deportation in 2010, but legal challenges have stalled the process.

This tragedy is similar to the famous Dianne Whipple case in San Francisco. Ron Rouda represented Dianne Whipple’s mother in a wrongful death case against Marjorie Knoller, whose two large presa canario dogs mauled Dianne to death in 2001. Marjorie was convicted of second-degree murder in the ensuing criminal trial and sentenced to 15 years to life in prison.

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