Animal Law, Boalt Hall, Crime, Deaths, Law Schools, Violence

Law Students of the Weekend: Alleged Berkeley Bird Beheaders

Law students gone wild? What happens in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas when the allegations get this ugly.

A pair of men who appear to be Boalt Hall law students have made national — and even international — news. Keep reading for the disturbing allegations against them….

Eric Cuellar (left) and Justin Teixeira (right). Cuellar looks addled; Teixeira looks cute. (Image via Gawker; click to enlarge.)

The news has been covered everywhere, making headlines as far away as the U.K. and Australia (links collected below). We’ll go with Gawker’s write-up of the allegations because it gives us the most to work with:

In an apparent attempt to empirically prove the veracity of Robert Frost’s 1962 poem “Nothing Gold Can Stay,” two men, Eric Cuellar and Justin Teixeira, were arrested in Las Vegas this week after being caught on tape killing an endangered 14-year-old helmeted guinea fowl.

[UPDATE (10:50 PM): Actually, see the note at the end of this post; the bird is exotic, at least in Las Vegas, but not endangered.]

[UPDATE (10/15/2012): Also, the Frost poem is from 1923.]

Security footage at the painfully named Flamingo Hotel showed them throwing the bird back and forth while laughing and discussing how they would kill it, because there is nothing good or innocent that will not eventually be brutally murdered. The two were identified as Berkeley law students because of course they are.

Thank you, gentlemen, for enhancing our profession’s already stellar reputation.

Security officers saw them emerging from a nearby grove with the decapitated corpse of something that was once beautiful, as well as the head itself, after which we can only assume the officers took a moment to privately weep for humanity’s collective loss. The men refused to speak to police or identify themselves in any way, presumably because they were supernaturally rendered speechless by shame and grief.

Exercising the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination? Looks like someone was paying attention in Crim Pro class.

(By the way, in terms of how the men were identified, other news reports state that they had Berkeley student identification cards on their persons.)

The two face felony charges for torturing and killing endangered wildlife; no word yet on what punishments await reporters who use the phrase “fowl play” in introducing the story.

If there will be punishment, mete it out to the Las Vegas Sun: “Fowl play: Police arrest Cal law students in killing of exotic bird at Flamingo habitat.” And some Above the Law tipsters got punny too:

“I think these guys were puffin something.”

“They turned a guinea fowl into a bird of paradise.”

All joking aside, this is actually a sad — and disturbing — story. We agree with our many tipsters who opined that the alleged conduct is both “ridiculous” and “despicable.”

We’ll probably have more to say about this on Monday. Remember, of course, that we’re dealing only with allegations at this point. Cuellar and Teixeira haven’t commented, so we don’t know their side of the story or what might have been motivating them. According to the Daily Mail, the police do not believe drugs to be involved (no word on alcohol though).

If you know Eric Cuellar or Justin Teixeira and can provide us with additional information about them, please email us or text us (646-820-8477). Thanks.

UPDATE (10:50 PM): For the record, as noted in the comments, the helmeted guinea fowl is not endangered. Cuellar and Teixeira face felony charges of conspiracy and the willful, malicious torture or killing of wildlife. Endangered-species status is not an element of the offense.

UPDATE (10/15/2012, 2:30 PM): Read more about Eric Cuellar and Justin Teixeira in this follow-up story (including comments from people who know them from college and law school).

UPDATE (10/18/2012, 6:10 PM): This is an ongoing story. For the latest coverage of Eric Cuellar and Justin Teixeira, click here and here, respectively.

Law Students Decapitate Rare Bird Because It’s Vegas, Baby [Gawker]
(Alleged) Douchebag Law Students Arrested For Beheading Rare Bird On Trip To Vegas [LAist]
Fowl play: Police arrest Cal law students in killing of exotic bird at Flamingo habitat [Las Vegas Sun]
2 law school students accused of beheading exotic bird at Las Vegas casino’s wildlife exhibit
[Washington Post]
Berkeley law students arrested after ‘decapitating and tossing around exotic bird’s body at Vegas casino’ [Daily Mail]
California University law students arrested for beheading an exotic helmeted guineafowl at Flamingo resort casino [The Australian]

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