LAPEER, Mich. – The owners of two dogs that got loose and killed a jogger in Michigan pleaded no contest Friday to a reduced charge.
Sebastiano Quagliata and his wife, Valbona Lucaj, pleaded no contest to owning a dangerous dog causing death in the fatal mauling last summer of Craig Sytsma of Livonia, The Flint Journal (http://bit.ly/1Om1P5U ) reported.
"I'm so sorry," Lucaj told Sytsma's family.
Sytsma, 46, was attacked by two cane corsos last July in Metamora Township, 45 miles northwest of Detroit. Lapeer County Prosecutor Tim Turkelson predicts a sentence of at least 19 months in prison when the two return to court on June 8.
The two have been in custody for months and were facing a second-degree murder charge before making the plea deal. Lucaj, a native of Albania, and Quagliata, a native of Italy, could be deported after serving their sentences.
They had "no intention to do anything to hurt anyone," defense attorney Jason Malkiewicz said.
"I think today was the first day my clients got to sit over there and accept responsibly for actions," he said. "I think the death of Mr. Sytsma has sat in their heads for a year and it's been a nightmare to my clients, as well as everyone involved."
Attorney Glenn Saltsman said the Sytsma family is satisfied with the plea deal, although he believes laws covering dangerous dogs are "archaic and weak."
There was evidence that the dogs had attacked other people on the road.
"These dogs should've never been alive after the first attack," Saltsman said.
Information from: The Flint Journal, http://www.mlive.com/flint