A judge this afternoon refused to reduce the $500,000 bonds ordered for a Metamora couple charged with second-degree murder after their dogs mauled a jogger last month.
Sebastiano Quagliata, 45, and his wife, Valbona Lucaj, 44, were led into Lapeer District Court handcuffed and in orange jail garb. Their attorneys asked that their bonds be reduced to $100,000 with a 10 percent cash surety, but District Court Judge Laura Barnard declined, saying she did not know enough about the case to reduce the bond. She set a preliminary examination date for Aug. 15.
The pair were arrested last week following an investigation by police. Investigators said they had a history of allowing their dogs, Cane Corsos, to run loose on Thomas Road in rural Metamora County.
It was on that road that Craig Systma, 46, was mauled as he jogged the evening of July 23.
In court today, Systma’s family sat quietly in the front row. The defendants’ family and friends sat behind them, many of them, including children.
Assistant prosecutor Michael Hodges, in arguing that the bond remain high, said he was worried the two would flee the country. Quagliata of Italy and Lucaj of Albania have been fighting deportation since 2005.
In addition to the second-degree murder charge, the two also are charged with harboring a dangerous animal causing death, a 15-year felony.
The two dogs who mauled Sytsma were euthanized Monday, Hodges said. A third dog was put down Friday. Hodges said eight puppies taken from the couple’s home will be placed with a rescue league.
If convicted of second-degree murder, the pair face up to life in prison.