(Above) Norfolk District Attorney Michael Morrissey outlines the details of the case while (from left) Assistant DA Tracey Cusick, Police Chief Paul Keenan, and Animal Rescue League President Mary Nee stand in the background
A Polish immigrant accused of torturing and abusing a Quincy dog will be held on $500,000 cash bail after arraignment proceedings at Quincy District Court on Tuesday.
Radoslaw Artur Czerkawski, 32, from Poland, was charged with 11 counts of animal cruelty and one count of misleading a police investigation. He will be due back in court on Nov. 21 for a pre-trial conference.
“People get frustrated at how slow things work, but this individual, the defendant, does deserve and will get a fair and impartial trial,” Norfolk District Attorney Michael Morrissey said after Tuesday's proceedings.
Legal counsel for the suspect, attorney John Gibbons of Milton, asked that bail be discussed again on Nov. 21. Currently, there is a $5 million surety attached to bail.
Although Gibbons asked that the photos attached as evidence be impounded to dissuade further community reaction, Quincy District Judge Mark Coven denied the request.
At noon, a hush fell over the courtroom as Czerkawski entered the room. Throughout the proceedings, the stocky, disheveled man leaned in closely to a Polish interpreter brought in that morning.
Before bail proceedings, Tracey Cusick, Norfolk County assistant district attorney, outlined the extensive investigative work it took to track down a suspect after an unknown female pit bull was found near death on Carrolls Lane in Quincy.
According to Cusick, animal control officers responded to the scene on Aug. 31 and brought the dog to the Quincy Animal Shelter. The dog was later euthanized at a veterinary hospital in Weymouth and its remains sent to the Animal Rescue League of Boston for further inquiry.
Further veterinary examination showed extensive injuries, including starvation, a right eye stab wound, and two deep nose injuries. The dog’s tongue had been split, she had multiple skull fractures in various stages of healing, had crush fractures to her spine, injuries to her front and back legs, shoulder injuries, and fractured ribs.
As the injuries were read, several people sobbed openly in the courtroom.
According to Cusick, all the injuries would be extremely painful and had occurred two to four weeks before the dog was found.
After police released information to the public on Sept. 19, a woman named Laura Hankins came forward saying she believed she had once owned the dog, named "Kiya". Photos examined by veterinary experts at Animal Rescue League of Boston positively identified the dog in the photos as the one found, and police began tracing the owners.
A couple in Worcester had purchased the dog from the woman who initially contacted police. From the couple, police ascertained a phone number of a man to whom the couple subsequently sold the dog.
Phone records showed the suspect living at 89 Whitwell St. in Quincy, close to where the dog was first discovered. The couple positively identified the suspect in a photo array as the man who had purchased the dog.
According to Morrissey, Czerkawski was living in Quincy as the caretaker for a 95-year-old woman. Morrissey said the family had hired the suspect to look out for the woman, who was Polish.
The woman passed away on Aug. 31, the same day as the dog was found, Morrisey said.
Police said they had investigated the woman’s death the day it occurred and do not believe there was foul play. When police went around the neighborhood asking about the injured dog, the suspect had allegedly lied to police and said he saw two people with a dog.
Police reinvestigated the woman’s death after investigations looped back to Czerakawski on Oct. 20. Though foul play is still not suspected, evidence found in the home pointed to animal abuse, Cusick said.
In the second floor of the apartment where Czerkawski had lived, police found blood spatter stains in a bathroom and a paw print in blood on the back of a closet door. Police also found scratch marks in the lower corner of the doorframe in a room on the second floor.
Fur consistent with the abused dog was found on the carpet and on the walls.
Tissue samples taken during a necropsy of the abused dog also matched up with DNA evidence found at the scene.
“[It was] old-fashioned police work,” Morrissey said after the hearing. “…A lot of it started with calls and shoe leather, but obviously more modern forensic techniques, the use of DNA, phones, all that was used and outlined in the case. From the beginning, we’ve been concerned that if an individual could do this to a dog or another animal, [what could they do to a person?] This made this an extremely important case to us.”
The suspect faces up to five years in prison for each count of animal abuse. The suspect was required to surrender his passport.
Prosecutors also said they an investigation is continuing and they will add charges if they find evidence of other animals being abused. Czerkawski is also facing several outstanding warrants in New Bedford for larceny by check over $250, prosecutors said.
Courtroom observers said the proceedings validated their efforts.
“It was so difficult to hold back the emotions,” said Lorelei Stathopoulos, from Salem. “…This is a court of law, but this has been a tradedy. It was a third world act. We have to stand up and change the laws, and the only way to do it is to come here and make a stand.”